My essay “If You Find a Mouse on a Glue Trap” (Brevity, September 2018) will be reprinted in Pushcart’s annual anthology. When the email from Dinty W. Moore arrived yesterday, I read it more than a few times. More than a dozen, I think. It took that many readings to decode: “Your piece has been selected for inclusion in the Pushcart Prize XLIV volume.”
I processed the news while picking up my twin sons from preschool, helping them with their backpacks and snacks and multiple drawings and new piano-shaped pencil sharpeners, wiping up a nosebleed, reading books about dump trucks and subways, packing the next round of lunches. My kindergartener arrived on the bus, and we talked about his day, about the habitat he’s building for a ladybug, about the beaver dam he will be crafting.
I emptied the fridge, found older fruit that I knew my boys wouldn’t eat. Unloaded a cabinet shelf because it felt sticky. Searched online for whether the fruit was palatable to birds, certain nuts healthier than others for chipmunks. Do squirrels like pineapple? Tree frogs and strawberry leaves. Squish berries for birds or leave them whole? I opened the back door over and over, chucking bowls full out to the grassless patch under the bird feeder. By the fourth or fifth door opening, the animals didn’t even bother skittering away. My husband happened to be home yesterday and noticed I was stuck in a loop. “You’re trying to take care of the mouse all over again,” he said.
I am honored that my essay will be part of the incredible Pushcart tradition. And I’m reminded that the least little creature can set in motion an experience like no other, when we pay attention.