Glue Trap

My heart looks like the old yellow house where thin, mouse-bitten 
walls separated our part of the basement from another 
Chinese family. We could hear their daughter practice tongue 
twisters, they could hear my mother scream when I went too far 
in my careless teenage obstinacy. She came home one day 
with a pink plastic bag of glue traps for the mice who tormented 
the strings in my piano and chewed holes in their rice sacks.
I could hear it chirp, the first one caught in the entrance hall 
between our two chambers, as the adults circled it.
My mother slipped back inside after convening with the other 
parents, told me the father would get rid of it. Squeaks crescendoed 
when the sheet of glue started to travel — the father lifting it, 
hands close enough for the mouse to smell, walking it 
outside where beneath a smoky moon I heard him 
bring down the hammerhead. Or rather I couldn’t hear 
any more chittering. I rewound and tried to count the heartbeats 
between squeak and silence, the jammy crush of fur and 
skull. I’ve been having these moments more 
and more: time feels like a rotten tooth and my body sinks 
into its wormy cavity. I’ve hauled myself through 
this life on delusion alone, sidestepping puddles 
while I wore rainboots. Taught myself how to love from 
imitation. And I can’t deny every time someone tells, confesses, 
intimates, that they love me, I feel a deep grief ripple 
out from inside me — the dearths left by mice 
with broken heads and songs unfinished.

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