Of Mice and Men

But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

-Robert Burns

Of Mice and Men

The other day
Hannah asked me to buy her a book
She needs for school:
Of Mice and Men.

I remembered reading that book
With Dragon, that last year
When he was a freshman.
Only two years behind him,
And at the same school,
Hannah is reading all the same books.

I thought of when Dragon and I read that book together.
Sweet Lenny, strong and slow.
Smart George, hardened, but loyal.
Their shattered hopes.
The death of the dog,
The death of his mouse,
Foreshadowing the death of Lenny.

I thought of all the other stories Dragon read
That Freshman year:
The Scarlet Ibis,
The Lottery,
The Story of an Hour,
Romeo and Juliet,
The Catcher in the Rye.

All stories with death.
Why so much death?
Why hadn’t I noticed it then?

Great literature is supposed
To help us see Life
From a different perspective.
Well, one thing I know about Life
Is that everyone we know in this life,
Is going to die.
I guess we have to learn
How to deal with that.

I thought of Dragon’s copy
Of Mice and Men
Sitting on his shelf
Just where he left it,
Full of underlined passages
And his comments in the margins
In his messy handwriting,
Hard-to-read.
A boy in a hurry.
So much life to live.

His observations
His thoughts
In his own hand.
I didn’t want to give away his copy.
I wanted to preserve it
Like in a museum
So that I could visit it.
So that I could visit my son.

But then, I thought,
How selfish!
Why not allow Hannah
To experience the story
Through the eyes of her brother
Since he is no longer here
To lead her down the paths
He’s already forged?
I resolved to give her the copy.

Then it hit me
And I cried.
And I cried.
I only treasure Dragon’s paperback
This repository of his thoughts
His handwriting
His invisible fingerprints
Because the real thing
Is no longer here.

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