We had a mouse in our kitchen. The cat brought it in;
a small soft toy with a squeak to make the cat’s tail switch.
But when the mouse had lost interest in being batted about
or tossed in the air- it escaped to the safety of the dark
right under the kitchen cupboards. It scrabbled around
and found – underneath the built-in dishwasher –
a home, safe from cats and inaccessible to humans.
A comfortable existence, most of the time.
Even a hot wash in the dishwasher above did not evict him.
Believe me, Mum tried it.
Sometimes a snout could be seen checking out the scene.
Then if no cat about, the mouse would leave the under cupboard dark
and nip across the floor, under the door – to the utility and the cat’s bowl.
One lump of ‘Whiskas’ was a good sized meal for our little guest.
Every now and then the cat would suspect and inspect.
He’d sniff around gingerly then, tail upright, he’d walk off in a huff.
But at night the mouse would explore, leaving small calling cards,
far more than you would expect from one small mouse.
We had a mouse in our kitchen. But it had to go.
Mum said. She’d had enough.
We returned from the shop with a trap and a jar of peanut butter.
The trap was ‘environmentally kind’ – designed to catch and nourish,
so the mouse could be released (far away) and flourish.
Night after night the cat’s bowl would be raided
the cardboard blockade for the gap under-the-door, left in in tatters.
Peanut butter untouched. This mouse preferred ‘Whiskas’.
The mouse had outstayed its welcome. Two new traps were set
(‘infallible’ it said on the box). The under-door gap was sealed
with extra strength tape, heavy duty cardboard, and military precision.
We went to bed with our fingers crossed.
We had a mouse in our kitchen.
But the one that got away did not get away again.
We found him in the morning: snapped,
stiff and cold, his nose poked in peanut butter.
Sarah J Bryson is a poet and hospice nurse. She runs occasional poetry workshops, and more regularly she works in care homes as part of a project taking poetry into residential care. Her poetry has been placed in competitions and published in anthologies, in journals and on line.
4 thoughts on “The One That Got Away by Sarah J Bryson”
I felt sorry for the mouse. A good poem with a captivating story. I wish the mouse could have survived, but I understand. An attempt was made, at least. Its poor little nose in peanut butter.
Sarah J Bryson says
thank you for your response. As you may have guessed, based in truth!
I really like the story, and how it’s told. Just one observation — I think this would come over even better as a flash fiction.
Sarah J Bryson says
Thank you for your comment… interesting observation. It was written for the Belmont poetry prize which is judged by children themselves…