Trap

Anne Carson

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

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