the sum of all my fears

that mouse you saw in the hall
turned out to be a rat
admittedly small and docile
but still a rat
when I went in for the kill
it curled up in my palm
puny and piebald
its little pink fingers entwined
its tiny red eyes
watery and so very human
I should strangle it I thought
that’s what you do with rats
but feeling its neck begin to crack
like last Sunday’s chicken bones
I hesitated

I can’t do this I thought
so let it scuttle down the garden path instead
from where black and arched
like a cartoon villain
it turned to leer

now like the sum of all my fears
it will return
and I’ll be waiting