Enumeration AMY TIBBETTS
HOW TO COEXIST WITH MICE IN 10 STEPS
1 Ignore the small signs at first. An acorn in the laundry basket, a stray pumpkin seed on the basement stairs.
2 Find signs you can’t ignore. Droppings on the base- ment shelves where your mother’s seed packets are
lined up awaiting spring planting. Look closer: the packets have been raided, the corners chewed o=, seeds of
sunflower and squash scattered like shrapnel.
3 Admit that your home is occupied territory. New droppings have appeared every morning: buried
like land mines between stacks of papers on your desk,
strewn across the keyboard where you are not writing your
novel. Research extermination methods until your mother,
a science teacher who keeps turtles and frogs in the classroom, calls you and insists on mercy for all creatures.
4 Choose defense instead of offense. Pack steel wool under the doors, barricade the rooms with scented
dryer sheets. Read on the internet that mice do not like
to walk on aluminum foil. Buy five hundred square feet
of it and cover the kitchen counters. The next day, examine the tiny warpaths carefully nibbled through the foil.
5 Recognize that you know nothing of the ways of mice; that no place is safe. Your childhood
dollhouse has been breached, its front door shoved
open, droppings on the tiny welcome mat. Each room
of this little house has been invaded, miniature chairs
kicked over, dishes the size of your pinky nail pulled
6 Receive a package from your boyfriend, who lives in the city. Its contents: three silver traps for the
humane capture of live animals, size extra small for
mice. Bait the traps with peanut butter and leave them
overnight in strategic locations.
7 In the morning, discover the traps sprung and empty. Study the trigger mechanism more closely,
and try again. Then, finally: success! Three traps, three
well-fed little prisoners blinking large dark eyes.
8 Release the POWs on a warm October morning in a forested meadow seven miles from your house,
where the grass is heavy with seeds and dew.
9 Begin reconstruction in the postwar world. Caulk the holes in your walls and dismantle the clutter
piles. Clean your childhood dollhouse. Arrange the little
chairs around the table, put the tiny dishes back in their
cupboards, brush the felt carpets. Breathe easy knowing
that universes great and small have been restored.
10Months later, take an old photo album from the basement shelf. Open to the photos of your
mother’s first communion, where, pressed between the
pages, you find a single, perfect pumpkin seed, ready
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