My Mother’s Rodent Phobia

Phobias really are quite strange things.
What scares some people, what they avoid
may seem irrational, with no basis that explains
why they get so frightened or get so annoyed.

The origin of most people’s phobia is shrouded in
the darkness of the deep past, the cause a mystery.
However, I saw my mother’s rodent phobia begin.
That night I was privy to part of our family history.

And, as I recall the events, it was not that strange at all.
We – my mother and I – wanting some cool night air,
had walked onto the back patio. What would next befall
my mother was burned into my memory, is forever there.

No wind was stirring; complete calm cloistered around us…
but the bird feeder by the back fence started slowly swaying.
Eagle-eyed Mother went to investigate. A young rat, just
little more than a weaned baby really, who was scrounging

a meal at the feeder, got the scare of its adolescent life
when Mother approached the feeder. It jumped in the air,
landing squarely upon mother’s head, a situation truly rife
with possibilities…She chose screaming, slapping her hair!

The poor, frightened, little rat ran right down her neck,
under her collar, and inside her very favorite blouse.
For Mother’s ability to run and leap, I gained new respect!
Swearing, ripping off her blouse, she sprinted to the house.

She must have been distracted, for she ran smack into a post
supporting the patio roof and knocked herself unconscious,
falling in a heap at my feet. The poor, little rat had almost
been killed…but scurried away unharmed, forever suspicious

of all mothers – speaking of which, from the very instant she
awoke, mine had this terrific phobia to mice and rats. I tell
you no lie – she had become as phobic to them as could be.
She fears nothing more…well, snakes, but that’s another tale.

Harry Edward Gilleland      12.30.03