This will likely reveal the sad state of housekeeping around here, but the other morning I found a dead mouse in the living room. The little creature must have folded itself against the chimney in the night and passed along into the next realm for small rodents, leaving behind a gray and a very long-tailed body. I swept it into the dustpan and laid it outside beneath a maple tree. Still early in the morning, the grass was cool beneath my bare feet, and the children were sleeping, wreathed in their world of dreams.
Ill, injured, or simply old? I don’t know. The leaves flipped up their undersides, preparing for rain. I knew the little body wouldn’t remain there long. These shells of creatures never do, scavenged up by some other animal, turned into someone else.
Oddly, as I walked back into the house and picked up my laptop on the couch again, I thought of an Issa haiku I first read when I was a teenager, more resonant, stronger, than ever. Ah, little mouse…
Don’t kill that fly!
Look–it’s wringing its hands,
wringing its feet.
– Kobayashi Issa