Once upon a time the cat, the mouse and the rabbit were out walking in a big green field and the sun was shining.
mind the glass, the cat said to the rabbit, as they crossed a field. the cows paid no attention to them. as they walked a crow flew up to them, and they all stopped for a while for a little chat.
my lover has died, said the little mouse, what should i do?
perhaps we should have a picnic, the cat said, and they all agreed that this was the right thing to do.
over the next hill they saw a big tree so off they all headed, the cat the mouse the rabbit and their new friend the crow. Under the shade of the big white oak tree they all sat and ate and pondered and soon the sun had set and darkness fell all around. under the light of the fire they all rested, the cat the mouse the rabbit and the crow and the big white oak tree on the hill far away. soon they had all fallen asleep, huddled up and breathing lightly.
this is what they dreamt…the mouse slept at home under thick woollen sheets. its little mouse room under the stairs, with its little mouse candle burning faintly in its little mouse corner. mouse demons and mouse angels pass through the room and stop for a little cheese left out for them.
the cat sits on a wide yellow beach sunning itself and watching the waves crash and roll at its feet. how i wish i had remembered the sun cream, the cat thought, licking its hot paws…
the rabbit did not dream. it just sat there quite still and peaceful, occasionally wrinkling its nose should a fly buzz too close and tickle it. after a while however it did dream, and it dream’t it was a little brown soft-toy rabbit, its long soft toy ears blowing in a cool soft toy-land wind.
this little group all quiet, excepting the occasional snore, or a loud squawk from the crow. who knows what the crow was dreaming – perhaps it never even slept, but no one thought to ask so we will never know. perhaps it just remained a crow…
they liked the tree on the hill so much they stayed for a long while. there was a beautiful view it is true, and no one seemed to mind them being there, the cat, the mouse, the crow and the rabbit.
after a while however the tree died and could no longer provide shelter, but the fields had grown, what with all the rain and sun, and alone now on the dead tree hill they couldn’t see anything for miles. even the cows had gone home. a plan was decided and this was that the brave crow should fly up and over into the green distance and spy a place to go, or perhaps bump into someone who could lead them all home. the cat was getting a bit hungry and missed its cat food, and the rabbit missed its other rabbit friends. the mouse was quiet, sitting alone nibbling the last of the cheese it had brought. so off the crow flew into the sunning blue. sure enough after a while it met a seagull, and they stopped on a cloud for a chat.
my friends have sent me out to find home, said the crow, because the green field has grown so much we cannot see the way out.
the seagull listened sadly to what the crow said, and remained quiet for a long while after.
it is the same everywhere, it said. everything has grown everywhere i go, it must have been the sun and the rain we have had.
no sooner had these words been spoken when the sky turned black and fierce. the sun cracked and lightening streaked the heavens. the storm raged above and below,
sweeping across the green fields and peaceful pastures. in the winds the crow and the seagull were blown far apart and carried far apart and swept and battered by the cold rains.
what of my friends? thought the crow as it tumbled through the sky, all alone and unsheltered on that lonely green hill far below.
the storm passed soon enough, but the damage had been done. when the crow returned to its friends on the hill they were all quite still and motionless. crow sat by them and could only wait. presently the cat stirred, all wet and covered in tar from the storm. cat saw crow and weakly told of what had happened.
rabbit has died, friend crow, it said. the storm was too hard and cold and it lasted too long for the softness of rabbit. rabbit has died and there is just me.
but what of little mouse? said the crow. has mouse died too?
i cannot say, said the cat. the winds cut too low for mouse too keep firm, and my fur
was too wet to shield… poor mouse was too weak and was blown over, tumbling over the edge.
in the sun after the storm these two figures set off the hill to search for their lost friend mouse, cat and crow walking side by side, crow flying further on from now and then, soon returning to cat’s side to continue, onwards, into the green, green, and it is now we leave them, cat and crow and mouse somewhere. what will become of them?
a house, somewhere, a muddy village of straw and mud dried in the sun which is shining, but there are no people out on the mud streets, everything is almost still. a house, somewhere inside, where a small straw fire simmers under small mud roof. the room is quite still and empty, a mud floor, dried in the mud heat and a bed in the corner. there are small things on the walls in the mud shadows, they glisten and hang still, lovers mementoes and found things kept and hung, plain muddied treasures, but air is still with sickness. mud air in a small mud house in a small mud village, whose streets are empty in the mud sunshine. enter the house, hear small breathing, weak small breath under straw sheets in the bed in the mud corner dried and in shadow. small weak body of a small animal, who does not think where it is, in mud house in sun. resting small weak animal in deepness under small mud roof, dried under healing sun, there is just this and we do not know where it is, mud, house, straw sheets and small clean sleeping body.
small unconscious body washed up on muddy bank, children playing find small weak
body of animal washed up on the stream bank, a small little death, they gently pick it up and wrap in warm straw, and take almost inert body of small little weakness back across the field to their village and everyone gathers around and they lie small animal found wet and still in wet mud of small stream, almost still, in the childrens’ house in their mud village, which is now quite still and empty, all the villagers and children have gone, the streets are almost quiet but quite empty. the children will never come back but the small mud houses will always be there, almost still in the mud sun, and when mouse wakes up again and is healed from its little muddy death, it will put out the small straw fire and restraw the small mud bed in the corner, and walk out of this little mud house and walk down these small almost still mud streets and leave this village, cross the field to the stream, wash in the clear water then continue over a little bridge into another field, with a small parcel of cheese for food. on into this field alone, as if with some purpose, thinking of its old friends cat and crow and rabbit far away, but mouse knows in its little mouse heart that it will never see them again, cat and crow and rabbit, and this makes mouse sad, a small little mouse sadness, but it does not stop or turn because the village is empty and still
and mouse misses its home under the stairs,
the little mouse candle still
burning in its little mouse corner still.
mouse crossed the stream into the field, following small fresh footprints on a small
winding track, hemmed with beautiful cathedrals of sweet corn and berries, small pebbles for small bodies, soon a small opening in which to rest. weary sun set and into sleep again, so rest here for a small moment little mouse, in the warm dew of the cold night air, orange misty glow of the corn stalks which bow down now and protect in your dreams, eyelids close, small tired hands huddle around fur and resting on its small bundle of cheese mouse falls into sleep, quiet dreams, so still in this night, protected under night sky by watchful insect eyes which form a small circle through which no demons may pass.
across the valley the dark forest, where there is no safety but horrors and beasts, cat
and crow sit a troubled vigil, scared and cold, lost in their search for little mouse, trapped in this forest close to the night, fearing for their lives.
whilst cat tossed in troubled sleep, in crow’s eye there is the image of mouse asleep in the corn church, alone but safe. But in crow’s black crystal eye there are tears, or perhaps it is just a trick of the black night, because crow sits strong and ever watchful, unable to fly with its damaged wing and broken foot, but a strong beak, and black jewel eyes.
mouse dreamt private dreams, to which we should not listen in, except to say that
mouse’s dreams were the same as ours, and in each night into which loneliness takes
refuge, we should think of our dreams as little mouse dreams, and take care not to forget that the sun never sleeps.
suddenly cat awoke, a tiny sound like thunder and cat is crouched down, so weak but fearsome with fright. crow had gone. cat cried out for crow but the trees had tightened in to the dark shadow around cat. another sound, cat arched up and twirled around, rigid with terror, broken claws upturned, cat utterly alone, feeling death’s hands reach out, stroke its head…but soon cat recovered and opened tired eyes, and a strange pale glow beckoned in the depths of the forest and slowly cat crawled into the darkness. and there was a pale glow which cat could barely make out, but as it approached the terror subsided and cat could make out the form of rabbit, sitting peacefully nibbling on green grass in amidst this darkness.
cat sat beside his ghostly friend, as if in a dream, and it seemed that time stood still now, and the pale glow calmed cat, who lay by this image, forgetting the darkness all around, and after a while drifted into peaceful sleep, and drifted into a healing dream, in which cat could see the sun.
as the sun came up, spreading golden light across the corn field, mouse awoke and sighed into the beautiful morning air, stretching its small arms and picking up its small parcel, with cheese to eat and other special mouse things. mouse started out along the little track through the valley of corn, above the sun and blue sky, below insects’ families quietly living under the tender soil and soft moss. treading carefully so as not to wake them, as it was still quite early, mouse followed the route all morning, growing weary again but content and determined.
reaching a small cross-roads in the path, mouse stopped and paused. suddenly a chill came across its small body, although the sun was quite high in the blue sky and only a gentle breeze rustled the leaves. mouse turned, and startled saw a strange hooded old man standing close by.
mouse could not see the old man’s eyes which were hidden in the dark shadow of the worn hood hanging over the head, only a strange grey tangled beard, and small frail hands clasped to the cloak. The darkened figure did not speak, but mouse heard a voice from inside, a voice which truly chilled little mouse to its tiny bones, a voice from inside its shivering little head, which said:
little mouse, who has been lost for so long and cannot find your lover, you are almost home, but your friends cat and crow are in grave danger in a dark forest, your friends are lost for life and will soon meet a most terrible fate…
mouse looked up into the horizon and there, untouched by sunlight, rose out of the solid earth the forest, a towering mass of dark bony trees and shivering death. mouse stood silently in horror, and turned again but the old man had gone.
mouse all alone under the shadow of the forest, slowly walking in fear and foreboding, along the track across the valley, upwards, into the depths of the forest from which mouse knew it may never return, and where mouse must find its friends cat and crow and the ghost of rabbit.
a storm rumbled high above, and rained down, upon the small figure of mouse, until we can see mouse no more, gripped out of sight by the darkness and heavy air.
our love for these little animals will stand guard with sunlight at the forest edge, take heart in your dreams little ones.
April 1991, November 1993