The Mouse on the Brick Step, by Terri McCord

Terri McCord
THE MOUSE ON THE BRICK STEP
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
Keats’ Ode to a Grecian Urn

is almost a 3D x-ray now.
I use the rot to measure time
and weather in these last
four weeks in December.
This was the year of the rat.

The mouse seems to be running still—
a hyphen of life to life,
curled legs suspended in a run.
The body is my natural
décor at the foot of our porch,
a pediment for the display.

I yearn to turn it over,
to see the rodent in the round,
to see it never catching up
but never being caught, except
by my stare, not the outreached paw
hung in air. From inside the house,
the cat watches with a permanent smile.

Author’s Comment: The genesis of “The Mouse on the Brick Step” was another of my cat’s kills. Torn between anxiety over his lack of compassion for life and, realizing of course, that this was the cat’s nature and predatory being, I imagined a suspension of time. In a space without time, like Keats’ grecian urn, anything and nothing is possible because all potentiality is frozen. Nothing dies, but nothing really lives either. All is frozen. I begin the poem with the idea of linking time to rot and decay, then freeze it because this is what the speaker in the poem “yearns” for. This is a preservation, but at a huge price.

Bio: Terri McCord won the South Carolina Arts Commission’s 2002 Literary Fellowship, the 2007 Don Russ Poetry Prize, the 2011 William Gilmore Simms Prize from the South Carolina Poetry Society, and a first place in the 2009 SC Poetry Initiative/The State Single Poem contest. Finishing Line Press published a chapbook The Art and the Wait in 2008. The South Carolina Poetry Initiative chose her second chapbook In the Company of Animals for publication in fall, 2008. She has poems forthcoming in Potomac Review, Nassau Review, and Grey Sparrow.

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