Barrow Mouse

Red and black milkweed bugs mating


Working in the garden I am not alone.  Pollen-bummed bees back out of flower mouths in haste to get to the next bloom complaining loudly I block their flight path.  A blackbird follows me around, tweeting all his friends that this is HIS freshly-turned long- worm territory.  All kinds of little creatures ignore me completely, they are busy doing The Bold Thing.  (Milkweed bugs particularly like my hollyhocks and also each other, they mate for up to 10 hours at a stretch.)

When I emptied my high-backed plastic wheel barrow of rakes and spades the other day to work on a new flower bed, I found a cowering timerous beastie at the bottom of it.  “Hello little field mouse” I said amicably – to quell the panic in its breastie – but his nose was long and he was not at all like the mice which used to plop into the cereal bowl on the breakfast table at home long ago (my mother kept the cornflakes pack in the hot press [ours not to reason why.]) He could have been a vole (aka meadow or field mouse and a rodent) or a shrew or a mole which are insectivores. His eyes were big, his colour uniform, but I could not count his front toes.  Anyway, he was good company for a few minutes until I tipped the barrow over and bid him au revoir.


shrew mole

shrew mole 2



















Bless the gray mouse

that found her way
into the recycle bin.
Bless her tiny body,
no bigger than my thumb,
huddled and numb
against the hard side.
Bless her bright eye,
a frightened gleaming
that opened to me
and the nest she made
from shredded paper,
all I could offer.
Bless her last hours
alone under the lamp
with food and water near.
Bless this brief life
I might have ended
had she stayed hidden
inside the insulation.
Bless her body returned
to earth, no more
or less than any creature.


“Prayer for a Field Mouse” by Pat Riviere-Seel from Nothing Below but Air.

© Main Street Rag, 2014.

Isabel Healy

Isabel Healy

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