Jim Zola


What Remains

Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie

Our winter kitchen becomes a rodent Normandy,
a rumor of claws against drywall,
a whisper of whiskers and tail.
Open a drawer and see, beneath the pencil
clutter, black droppings. The invasion

has begun. We’ve tried the humane approach –
traps carried deep into woods. The creatures
stayed so still we thought them dead.
Set free, they beat us back to the kitchen.
The next season, death snapped horrible

poses. Still, we found newspaper nests
under the sink, stockpiled rations of dog chow.
They boldened, sent out babies the size
of a thumb. Decoys. This winter one walked
into the living room on hind legs and sniffed.

Our eyes met. No scurrying. I threw the book
I was reading and it keeled over
cartoon perfect. All I could think about
as I scooped it into a paper bag,
was my father. The only poem he memorized

was Robert Burns’ elegy. He is gone
five years now. I will follow. Then, the house,
the street. All of it. Still the wind will nudge
the stubborn hickory. Still the mice
will scamper through what remains.

JIM ZOLA has worked in a warehouse, as a security guard, in a bookstore, as a teacher for Deaf children, as a toy designer for Fisher Price, and currently as a children’s librarian. He has published in many journals through the years. He currently lives in Greensboro, NC