The Story of the Field Mouse

The Field Mouse lived
in the front left pocket
of a black down jacket
that belonged to a Dapper Winter Man.
The Dapper Winter Man packed
bottles of water and a tent
and beef jerky in January
to hike a triangle of the
Appalachian Trail. The Field Mouse
peeked and bumped with the heavier
steps. Husks of cars from
the 1930s led the way up and up
to the trail head, some had fallen
down and down from the ledge.
And though it was January, the
Dapper Winter Man grew warm hiking
up and up. He sat on a stump
and drank a whole bottle of water
and tied his down jacket
to a tree. He stretched his legs
in the fallen leaves, out and out,
arms up and up. When he had rested
enough, he grabbed his bag and stood
and kept walking. The Field Mouse
was left behind. The sun went down
and the trees turned as black
as the down jacket, still
tied to a branch. The Field Mouse
slept. The woods near the trail
cracked and popped and growled
and still the Field Mouse slept.
And when the Dapper Winter Man
knew he left his jacket with
the Field Mouse, he made a small sound,
not knowing where it might be.
The Dapper Winter Man opened his tent
and built a fire miles away
and the Field Mouse slept.
When light slinked over the edge
of his mind and out onto
the water below, the Dapper Winter Man
stretched his legs in the open tent,
out and out, arms up and up. He walked
all day under the arch of the sun,
lost already at dusk. When he sat
in the trees where the trail disappeared,
the Field Mouse made a small sound.
The Dapper Winter Man turned around
and left the way he came
to find his way out, walking
down and down. When there was no light
left for anyone, the Dapper Winter Man
found his black down jacket
with the Field Mouse inside
and made a small sound. He put each arm
in, out and out, felt the Field Mouse
in his front left pocket, and walked on.

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