Sestina I (Of Mice and Moms)

Grief is a Mouse —

Emily Dickinson


I spoke with her on the phone today

She says her eyesight has nearly gone.

Her words dart furtively like a mouse

from past to present and back again

or a restless cat, left too many

Hours on her own. I hold her secret.


All too familiar, that shameful secret

Betrayals past, recounted today

Complaints and reprisals are so many

that the time for reconciliation seems gone

But we choose to sit together again

We, the children of this sightless mouse.


And we must make amends with our mouse.

and dull the blades of our own secrets

For all those years never to see again

to tender her comfort for today

Setting a space before she’s gone

Though sorrows and injuries are many


Gentle recollections of many

more, extend compassion to the mouse

The heat of the anger, dissipated. gone

Relinquish to posterity the old secret

We reach to embrace and sooth her today

Until that old anguish rises again


That longing to rehash misdeeds again

Betrayals, transgressions far too many

to catalogue and grapple with today

A lifetime spent avoiding the mouse

Exposing and repressing the same secret

Is the time for reparations now gone?


And if all good chances are gone

And forgiveness left at the roadside again

Do we once more? Put aside our secret?

The desertions, frivolities, weaved within many

True sad stories carried for the mouse

As her darting eyes go dark today

Her threat has gone; wearied by so many

­­Returnings. Again, we return our hearts to the mouse.

Swallowing her secrets, we speak only of today

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