November 2, 2011

Lantern

In the predawn cold and darkness, it was only a pinch of light, not more than a cup of warmth, as a farmer carried it over the snow to the barn where his dozen cows stood stomping, heavy with milk in the milky cloud of their lowing. But that was many years ago, and his lantern has rusted, its last fumes lost on the seasons like the breath of those cows. But at the last he thought to leave a fresh ribbon of wick coiled up in the chimney in case it was ever needed again, a dollar’s worth of preparation. And, getting prepared for a later winter, a pregnant mouse was able to squeeze through a vent and unravel that wick and make a cottony nest with dusty panoramic windows, and there to raise her bald and mewling pissy brood, and then for them to disappear, the way we all, one day, move on, leaving a little, sharp whiff of ourselves in the dirty bedding.

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