Synecdoches: i The Mouse


And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
                                                  William Butler Yeats

The moment the beast drops off, a fourfold breath
—in, pause, out, pause—composes the fleeting I
before he awakes and tweets again to you;
stuck in himself, he misses how the air parts
to allow a mouse to flash into the whole,
wafting a change in climate, a whiff of love

he does not consciously catch—a not nosed love,
the unidentified oxygen in breaths
that, like the missed odor of mouse, makes the whole
the unscented fact of life in which the I
puffs, dissipates—an imperceptible part;
he doesn’t smell his self drifting into you.

He doesn’t sense drafty facts, the cool of you,
with the scampering mouse, catching him in love;
the pungency of the concrete plays no part
in his dream of a rhythm beyond breathing,
anguish, the rot of heaven, lust, and his I
spreading its unconscious stink over the whole.

He loudly trumpets himself as the great whole,
the huge erection towering over you,
the monumental singularity—“I,”
towards whom, he cries, the world is slouching in “love”—
in fact, a holding of the collective breath
while the mouse runs up his trouser leg to part

his actual loud gasp from the gaseous part
he plays, the fart pretending to be the whole
climate, the belch pretending to be the breath
of life, while he is trying to smother you,
your laughter, the factuality of love,
the mouse that, squeaking through, creaks open the I,

swinging between presence and absence, the I,
appearing, disappearing, singing its part,
following the mouse that calls space into love
and choreographs the momentary whole,
lost and found in the wondrous embrace of you
enfolding the sleeping beast in your breathing.

In the dozing beast, the fourfold fact—I, whole
composition of constituting parts, you—
the mouse, we and all tweeting after, loves, breathes.

                                                                          Roy Herndon Smith