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Lice Hunting

Aubree Blomgren

A shirtless boy in chair at the center of a kitchen

sits still like the silt lip of a slight waterfall

and lets the sweat pour. There is so much saltwater

in a house with a broken air conditioner

that all the people must flail their arms

to stay above it, and with all that splashing

like mad dolphins, flipper hits flipper,

and thing after thing gets hurt.

His parents will not go through the terrible process

of picking the nits. Like Monkeys, like fucking monkeys,

his mother keeps saying. She hates monkeys. Too wild.

Too hairy. They'll shave his head, though they know

he loves his hair, because boy hair doesn't matter. He cries

His tears only fill up the house

with more water, with more salt, they are as insignificant

as the rain filling up the ocean. No one notices.

She beats him with the hair brush, and he gasps, but it seems as usual

as the breath that accompanies the oar

as it pushes some small, sad dingy back to its sad shore

It's nearly an hour past his bedtime and he's still in the blue

folding chair when she yanks him up and down,

and shakes him like she shakes his wet clothes

from the washer, just to let him know she's bigger.

She's the sea. He's whatever she'll allow, maybe a minnow.

Maybe a diver in a diving bell with his great silver

unpoppable bubble, silent except for the water and the prayer

for his lice and his mother to die.