Mary Jo Bang

The Scurrying White Mice Disappear

Where have they gone? The cage door
unlocked is left open but that answers
nothing. The snow outside will hide them
if they are successful in crafting flattened
versions of themselves and leave through
the space where the high wall ends. This is
only the nothing that is. Not a horror, or
no more so than any other effacing trace,
a novel of one-hundred chapters that
meanders until it arrives at the end where
on the last page the reader sees, strange
coincidence, his or her name. Spelled with
different letters but still the same name.
Closing the cover unmasks the guillotine
and kills the mice. This is a well-known
structuralist principle.

Mary Jo Bang is the author of seven books of poems, including The Last Two Seconds, The Bride of E, and Elegy. Her translation of Dante’s Inferno, with illustrations by Henrik Drescher, was published by Graywolf Press in 2012. She teaches creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis

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