Anecdote of the Rat
One night I saw a rat. A big rat. The biggest rat I’d ever seen.
It was slinking along the gutter across the road from where I was.
I was sitting on the porch. It was dusk. Light was fading like an old bulb.
But dark wasn’t really dark. Not yet.
I didn’t move. Not a muscle.
Not an eye blink. But the rat saw me. It stopped. Its whiskers twitched,
as if saying I see you, I see you… It stared at me. I stared at it.
For a long while we stared. I thought it might cross the road. That it might
come for me. But it didn’t. It just turned away. Continued its course
along the gutter. On up the road. On out of sight.
I haven’t seen
that rat again. Not in forty years. But it’s always there. On the other side
of that road. Of any road. It’s always there. If not the actual rat,
the physical rat, its shadow. The shadow of the rat. It lengthens with the years,
and the years accumulate. And so does the rat’s shadow. Soon,
too soon, there it will be. The rat. The actual physical rat. Bigger than ever.
Massive. There the rat will be. Advancing. Coming across the road.
Coming up on the porch. Where I am sitting. Coming. The rat. Its shadow
darkening the dark. The rat. This time it will not disappear.
George Drew is the author of nine poetry collections, including Pastoral Habits: New and Selected Poems and The View from Jackass Hill, winner of the 2010 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize, both from Texas Review Press; Fancy’s Orphan, from Tiger Bark Press; and most recently, Drumming Armageddon, from Madville Publishing. He also published a chapbook, So Many Bones: Poems of Russia. He has a new chapbook out titled Hog: A Delta Memoir, from Bass Clef Books, and a book of essays titled Just Like Oz, from Madville. He is the winner of the 2023 Passager Poetry Prize.