When it came into our cellar, the rat
brought fear with it, fear that lingers even
though the rat itself is long dead, poisoned
by the blue pellets that we fed to it.
Like the burglar that came the year before,
we thought we might have glimpsed it once or twice
in the garden, or the gutter, sudden
recognition at the eyes rim. Vermin.
Even so, lifting its stiffened corpse on a
trowel, the long whip of its tail rigid
as a lockpick, I felt – what? – compassion?
Something, perhaps, akin to pity for
this marginal creature, embodiment
of our detritus, bearing our nightmares.