Little Problem

by John Oravets

The tiny creature runs in circles
on my living room floor like
a windup toy. It’s real though,

a field mouse wounded by my cat.
I ease it out the front door
in a plastic kitchen container,

hoping without hope it will survive
the icy weather. When my cat spots
another mouse, I restrain her until

it escapes into the spare bedroom
and later buy a trap designed
to capture, not kill. I listen

as a friend brags about a family
of mice he annihilated using a single
piece of chocolate. I wince, wonder

why I have gone so soft, a guy who
waged a 20 year's war against
squirrels on his bird feeders, pelting

them with pebbles from a sling shot.
Wonder, too, why I now have to look
away from road kill as if part of me

lies there too.

John Oravets was a newspaper copyeditor for 40 years before retiring in 2004. He spent the last 17 years of his career at The Washington Post and the five years before that at the International Herald Tribune in Paris. Four years ago he decided to confront his lifelong fear of poetry—versephobia?—by signing up for a workshop and has been writing ever since.

About Little Problem—I had never knowingly had a rodent in my house before, so when this one appeared I was startled. And my reaction to its injuries brought into focus my inexplicable new compassion for animals. Writing a poem about the incident allowed me to take a closer look at those feelings.