Termites in Spring

1 February 2014

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.

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