In November, my cat presented a mouse to me. This was not unusual, except this mouse was still alive. This would have been nothing if said mouse had not been a baby unable to survive on its own. Even this would have been uneventful had I not been a completely soft-hearted individual who couldn’t bear to kill it , and instead insisted on becoming emotionally invested while I tried to raise it to maturity.
At the time, I was in the middle of a self-induced challenge to read all of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables in a week. This inspired me to name the mouse Cosette, and when I woke up every two hours to feed, wash, dry, and warm her, I would sit up and read a little more.
The challenge was to keep her warm, inside and out. I took Cosette out to lunch and a musical with my family, faithfully feeding her every two hours, which meant during intermission. I cried several times, worried all through the performance that she would be dead when I opened the box, that the bass was too loud and would burst her heart, that she was getting colder and colder.
Victor Hugo’s Cosette survives a wretched early childhood and is blessed to see her dreams of wealth and love come true. Despite my efforts to be a Jean Valjean, I could not save my Cosette, and she died while I was feeding her that night.
Logic tells me that she was one small mouse and couldn’t understand the effort I put into saving her. But never was poetry born of logic.
I held thee close unto my lips,
A dampened fire whisp’ring.
I brushed thee ‘til thou curled in trust
And finally stopped thy shiv’ring.
I shielded thee from stalking claws
Of tigers smelling weakness.
I cradled a young one by the stones
That threw warmth to the darkness.
I locked an explorer in her bed
So she would not find the cold.
I offered thee an eternal hand;
Hot fingers thou could hold.
I warmed thy milk in midnight hours
And gently filled thy throat.
I sang to thee the words of care,
Of heat, the love of hope.
I steamed the water, as for birth,
And boiled away the dirt.
I led thee down a shrinking path
While my eyes with salt were burnt.
I saw thy mouth, thy desperate teeth,
Too small! Too small to be!
I doubted the existence of
A creature small as thee.
I felt thy heart beat much too fast,
My own could not keep up.
Thy eyes which never saw the sun
Caused my poor eyes to shut.
I strained in prayer and begged for heat,
That thy blood run red and hot!
I tried to keep thy warmth inside,
But thy fire belongs to God.
How warm, oh it’s too hot to sleep!
A febrile brain have I.
It’s far too cold, my little thing,
You’re stiff! you freeze; you die.
Thank you for reading! Have a wonderful day!
Copyright 2019 Kimba Wisotsky. All rights reserved.