Drinking: Fountain soda
A flash of brown fur on white floor
as I open the door. Glossy bulbous eyes
meet mine for an instant, then he’s off,
four clawed feet scrabbling against
resistant polished tile, worm tail lashing
the filtered air for speed. A strange garbled
“Gaaaah!” escapes my throat, much to
my embarrassment, for I have farm girl
in my blood and know better than to
be terrorized by furred rodents. But
we have surprised each other
and now stand apart, I poised
near the door, he behind the toilet,
and try to slow our pounding animal hearts.
I consider our options, for we will not
remain alone in this room forever. If I call for help,
men will come bringing death and rescue.
But I am not a natural screamer.
Overcome by irrational Disney compassion
(for Cinderella made those mice such cute little shirts)
I bend to meet the intruder’s shiny stare.
Small chest pounding, he blurs again into motion,
leaving the porcelain for a better refuge.
In the next stall, a large cardboard box
storing plastic-wrapped tampons sits open-lidded.
He leaps gracefully up and lands softly
on sanitary cushions. I rush forward with no regard
for caution or cleanliness
and flip closed cardboard panels.
For a moment he beats fingered paws
against the sudden darkness, then falls still.
It takes nearly two minutes to thread my way
through cubicles, calmly, as if I carry large
boxes of ladies’ necessities with me always.
Outside in the alley I tip him softly into tall weeds.
He does not pause to thank me or consider
his sudden turn of good fortune, but blinks in
the sunlight and disappears. I carry the box
back to the office, finally recognizing my own
foolishness. I am the rat saviour.
Poem #4 for National Poetry Month. True story.
-Lo, who has always had an irrational rodent savior complex.