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I Hear Mice

By Joe Kapitan

One layer of drywall is all that’s left, just five-eighths of an inch separating equilibrium from oblivion, pressed gypsum the depth of a knuckle that the mice are gnawing through—shut up and listen, can’t you hear them?—deep in the crotch of night, their teeth set against my barricade, thundering my ears, reminding me that a house is merely a handful of this-life voids hollowed from a solid block of all-possible-lives, leaving the rest (the attics, the between-floors, the within-walls) as haven for the other-lives, the place where all choices differently-made, all cards undealt can be found: my first love (had I not let her brush past me daily like an empty subway train) wedged between two-by-four pine studs; our first child, not firmly rooted, forever the size of an acorn, nestled against the warmth of an air duct; other careers and other cities and other friends wrapped in insulation or tangled in wiring, watching the mice attack the membrane and in darkness, something in the shape of my wife mutters “Why can’t you kill those little fuckers?”, the voice an octave off, and it’s just a matter of time before the gray devils breach the walls in places I cannot reach, before the cold air seeps in and rewrites my lines as I sleep, before my journal turns to guest book and dawn finds everything frosted with that acrid, choking dust memory makes when overhandled.

Joe Kapitan writes fiction and creative nonfiction from a grove of pines located a day's march south of Cleveland, Ohio.

Photo by Jason Thayer.


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