I was convinced I was a

little, timid, grey mouse

who hid in cracks and squeaked only sometimes,

scurrying from doorstep to skirting,

skidding helplessly and always scared.

Soon, my mouse coat got all spotted and mottled and

had unbecoming brown patches.

A little mouse but not cute and little

because I paled in comparison

to her.

She was the cutest, diddiest,

sweetest, purest, most innocent mouse,

with combed, silky whiskers

straight and blonde, while

my ugly mess was knotted and could never

be tamed or fixed with pins.

But I managed, after years of shrinking smaller

and smaller,

and tiptoeing quieter

and quieter

(my tiny pitter patter so soft

I forgot I was even in the room sometimes),

to escape from the mousetrap.

Now, when I look back and think

about her, the perfect mouse,

the one who made me shrink

even smaller than a sleeping


I realise that she was not

a mouse at all:

she was a slim, stealthy, slithering

snake. The smooth whiskers were

the sharp fork of a tongue and

the coat that shone was

an endless stream of scales (I don’t think she could even penetrate herself).

I do not blame myself, now,

because she was so subtle and sly and slippery

that there was no way I could have known until

I crept out from that dark hole.

Now, when I look back and think

about my poor little mousey self,

I shed a tear for how small

I let myself shrivel.

Now, I wear big black boots

and I pound the ground so other creatures

can hear me

but louder than that

I can hear the heavy vibrations in my big paws

making waves in the air, filling up


A self-assured and loved lioness

whose unruly ginger hair is not mottled or tangled

– it is a great thing to defy pins –

and I know people hear me, because I

can hear myself.

After all these years I realise

I am not a mouse, most certainly not a sister

of that snake –

I am a lion. And I was a lion all along.

Image courtesy of Kong Jun


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