A poem written on the occasion of the death of a mouse

by Mr. Sheehy

Number 6

“San Francisco is a city without graves. . . . In 1914 removal notices were sent to all burial sites, declaring them ‘a public nuisance and a menace and detriment to the health and welfare of city dwellers.'”

– Joseph Bottum, “Death & Politics,” First Things, June/July 2007.

You caught number 6.
   That’s all you told me in the email

And I knew you hadn’t searched for the body.
   Only saw the 2×4 where the trap had laid empty,
known it was nearby,
   and full.

If you had searched,
   and found what I found,
I’d have wished you’d warned me,
   better prepared me,
or better yet,
   taken care of it for me.

Because,
   though I wear the confident grin of the hunter
while spreading peanut butter
   across the copper lever,
I have always dreaded the dressing of game;

Or in this instance,
   of living prey,
come straight from the windowsill of Goodnight Moon,

Or so it seemed, as he sat on his haunches
   and nibbled the remaining bait,
his leg pinned
   where his neck should have been.

I don’t know how long
   I would have left him there
while I paced the house
   avoiding,
trying to uncover a means of disposal
   less hands on,
      less real;

A type of San Francisco denial,
   as if somehow I could make it through life
without any death,
   at least that I know of.

How convenient that your father was there,
   an old farm-boy unafraid
of reality.

I followed him outside
   but hung back by the doorway,
close enough to see the job,
   distant enough to avoid the splatter.

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