AND FINDING NO MOUSE THERE
There was this bit of dry bone on the sand.
The less-than-human skull which once had housed
A less-than-human brain was empty now
And open to the airs. How dead it was!
How polished by the wind and bleached by sun,
Unroofed, unshuttered, stripped and tenantless,
Impersonal as any stick or stone
I might have kicked in passing.
There it lay,
The relic of a summer barely gone,
And there was I, not quite a relic yet,
Peering into the windows of a mouse
And finding no mouse there.
What once had lived Its tiny life and died its tiny death
Beneath the fragile rafters of this room
Had known its last of self.
I sometimes think
(Perhaps because I have a larger skull)
That we are different, the mouse and I,
That something splendid in me will endure;
And then again, sometimes I am not sure
And lift a troubled hand to touch my head,
Still roofed, still shuttered, still inhabited.
--"And Finding No Mouse There" (Vivian Smallwood)