Not the killing kind – not spring-loaded, or spine-breaking, no limp little body no blood, or need to finish botched jobs. A small, guilt-free cage with one-way chute – once in, no nimble-footed exit. The last time, during a plague, five native long-nosed antechinus, freed at the far end of the long paddock. Mice never again during my tenure in the bush cottage. Now they have taken up residence in my city pantry – nibbling labels off cans and jars, leaving tiny teeth marks in stock cubes, a trail of small black pebbles of scat, pungent murine must. Too soft- hearted to kill, too committed to kindness to co-existence, I again elect relocation set the trap with mouse-sized cubes of cheddar. Soon mouse hunkers in the corner whiskers twitching. I drive mouse-in-cage to the local park, worrying about family left behind, to the shelter of a large oak – leaf litter to burrow a route to safety. I open the cage to freedom. Mouse begins their race from confinement to cover. A sweetly caroling magpie abruptly severs their song dives with aerial elegance on folded wings, coasts and scoops mouse in its hungry, guilt-free beak. Without losing a beat.
Anne M Carson’s poetry has been published internationally and widely in Australia, and has been awarded in literary competitions including a high commendation in the 2020 Martha Richardson Poetry Prize. Her latest publications include Massaging Himmler: A Poetic Biography of Dr Felix Kersten (Hybrid Publishers, 2019) and Two Green Parrots (Ginninderra, 2019). She is a visual artist, and essayist, has initiated poetry-led social justice projects, performs with Muse Poetica and is a RMIT PhD candidate at RMIT. www.annemcarson.com