Lice

A. E. Stallings

Winter 2017

It starts with a hunch:
watching her scratch unthinking-
ly behind her ear.

You loosen a hitch
along a hair’s burnished shaft—
it’s just as you fear:

now you’re picking nits
with a fine-toothed comb no less,
lousy metaphor.

How pediculous!
But now it’s personal, it’s
chemical, it’s war,

no quarter, no truce.
You lord it over their dead,
their pedantic puce,

undo the unborn
(murder is meticulous)
that star her dark head,

divide in sectors,
lest anything be over-
looked, doubt’s niggling itch.

A. E. Stallings is an American poet who has lived in Greece since 1999. She has recently published a new verse translation of Hesiod’s Works and Days (Penguin Classics), and a new collection of poetry, Like (with FSG).

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