He says Termites. Scrutinising
their Braille, he finds a tinyness too obscure for such stubborn
thumbs. He says The wood’s too bitter, compensating
with his literacy in timber.
I think, the termite’s entire body
is devoted to language. Following a scent’s stain,
a pilgrimage to sucrose wood.
We talk about the tragedy of knowing.
He says Look at this bit, steel-toe circling
a section of raspy
decay. He says They had no clue, sniffles
at the arrogance of the past.
Alone, I study sections of floor-board
for nescient letters, tracings
in dusty termite-shit, scraping clots out
from under my ruby-red fingernails.
He pulls back more stucco.
He says They’re gone. He says Bet you they’ve got designs
on that oak out front.
In dreams, my elbows scar with blisters
where a termite has broken out
through the skin. I spit creamy fistfuls of them, feel
a scrotal tingling, that
their empire needs the sex of my bones.
Waking, I hear a phone-call in the hall, his voice gone stiff
on certain words: sander. Girls. Concerns.
Yesterday, I bit paint off my nails. I coughed
at the ceiling. Today, I scratch three lines about water, or
the dank retch of rot, and then
such human noise is muted; everything
is muted by the bitter taste of wood.
Termites in Spring
1 February 2014