The Snares of This World
The cat is old and the mice are not.
Christmas is near and I’ve turned benevolent.
I’ve had success with the have a heart trap.
I’ve released the captives six blocks away
at Springfield Park in hopes of doing
the kinder thing. Still, I take to the web
and search under releasing wild mice
and read how they should be freed
at least six miles from the point of capture
to prevent a return. The Humane Society,
however, says the release should occur
no more than a hundred yards from their home,
which, of course, is your home. Any farther
will disorient them. Others point out that living
in houses has made them ill equipped
to forage for food outside. Some say leaving
them out in winter is a death sentence.
Still others say putting your caged mouse
in a freezer will just cause him to go to sleep
and never wake up. Well, I keep my house
at 75 and being left in the cold is not
the way I would want to die.
The more I read the more perplexed I become.
How fragile are the particulars of our lives.
Is there ever a way that is right beyond question?
So much that is troubling is unanswerable,
and meanwhile, there’s reality to deal with.
I settle on choosing a house in my block
that’s been abandoned. I open the door
to my car and let his little gray liveliness
out of his trap. Merry Christmas, Mouse.
May God save you from the snares of this world.
Walking The River
I should have been afraid.
But you weren’t afraid.
We were walking the Potomac River
from Memorial Bridge to Washington Harbour—
a truly modest walk, just short of an hour.
Trouble was getting through that patch
after Kennedy Center and the Watergate.
It was unpaved and unlit and filled with woods.
Yes, woods. A good place for bad things.
Ten interminable minutes to cut across.
We could see the path but that was it.
Nothing, not even stars, to help you though.
We could hear other people, strangers, in the dark walking.
Some were having a conversation. Others were silent.
Someone was smoking something.
We saw a lit cigarette tip. Or was it a roach clip?
We kept up the banter as if it wasn’t scary.
And then abruptly, without warning,
came the rise of tall hotels and long restaurants,
the spray of fountains in the firework of neon lights,
the sparkling boards of boardwalks coupled
by a concerto of cafes and bars and bright lights
and bright talk.
I needed a drink.
Roberto Christiano received two back to back poetry awards from writer.org, the online arm of The Writer’s Center of Bethesda, as well as a 2010 Pushcart nomination from Prairie Schooner. Port of Leaving, published by Finishing Line Press, was a finalist in their chapbook competition. His poetry was anthologized in The Gávea-Brown Book of Portuguese-American Poetry, and his haiku was published in The Washington Post. He won the 2010 Fiction Prize from The Northern Virginia Review for his story, The Care of Roses. Two short plays were produced at Source Theatre in D.C. His memoir essay, And The Stars Were Shining, is the current issue of Delmarva.