The Blanket and the Rats

Everything’s muffled with this blanket
the color of the Sound on a rainy day.
Mice nibble under the blanket.
They chew away at me and the blanket grows
thicker and thicker…Should I go back to school?
Should I take that waitressing job?
My feet hurt just lying here.

The mice keep growing; maybe they are rats
with thick, blue-gray coats and scaly tails.
They don’t nibble, they gnaw,
What does everyone think of you,
lying there on the couch? they ask
again and again with their teeth.

We all know I’ll live out my days
washed up on my mother’s couch
and then my brothers will come
and turn me out. Already, they nibble,
Why don’t you do mom’s dishes,
mow her lawn? Why don’t
you just try a little harder?

Why don’t they gnaw on cornflake boxes
or old take-out cartons and unread mail?
Instead I shuffle through these to see
if anything new has appeared
in the fridge. It never has, just as
nothing new ever happens on TV.

The blanket gets thicker. Even the rats,
grown fat on my worries,
can’t move under the weight of it.

Naomi Cohn is a writer, therapist and teaching artist who works with older adults and people with vision loss. Red Dragonfly Press published a chapbook of her poems on insects, Between Nectar & Eternity, in 2013. Her writing has also appeared in About Place, Fourth River, Water~Stone and Fish Stories, among other places. She is the author of a handbook on organizing around urban watersheds and is the former editor of Disclosure, a national publication on community organizing. She is currently working on a collection of essays about the experience of learning to read braille as an adult.

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