The school sent notice of a lice alert
We were to dutifully check our children’s heads.
The kids were spooked:
Tiny burrowing bugs, would it hurt?
The little girl had attached a post-it note to her math book
A morning reminder in kid scrawl: wet your hair, put it in a ponytail
I can spread along your pale stripe of part
The bronzed roots swished to and fro
Like the swaying grasses of coral reefs.
Is that a nit or just last night’s white rice?
I will buy the special shampoo
I will scrub your scalp until it bleeds
You’re a good little girl.
You listen, you follow the rules.
Hurry home from school
Don’t wear your best friend’s hat.
Don’t borrow that brush,
Always use your own comb
There’s only so much I can do
To scratch that itch
As you trundle off through the drifts
Of snow to the bus
Don’t be fooled by the silence of snow;
The muffled layering effects
Hide the festering truth.
For the living multitudes lay in wait
To get under your skin,
To grab you by your hair,
This teeming world of imminent infestation,
The ones you can’t see
And the ones that are already there