Two Poems | Clara Bush Vadala
The mice we use are ethical, they come
from frozen reptile food. We warm them up
by rubbing abdomens between our palms
until the limbs resign to let us sculpt
their disembodied joints with wire. Now,
we offer crucifixion in reverse,
we splay their palms and pierce them. We allow
their empty skins to flail like flags. We curse
the moisture weeping out of every mouse.
We spread detergent like a salve, it dries
us out. Our teacher tells us all about
the dos and donts while sewing up their spines—
how freezing twice destroys a rodent’s pelt:
the hair that keeps them looking live, falls out.
Sonnet for the Many-Named Louse:
Papillon d’amour, Pthirus pubis, The Pubic Louse
Why do you think this louse would want to live?
—this lazy flightless buzzard sucking skin
for pleasure (creeping, crevice-finding itch).
It crawls a nest in coarse-haired places. Then,
in folds of flesh, it burrows claws, fat head,
dull teeth until it must not breathe a breath
of air unless it’s dander filled, or dead
integument. This hungry ick will spread.
Its eggs, like glue, create another bug
of short and ugly build. Relationships,
it relishes. It shares itself, a drug
of lust. Unpeeled, this louse’s crusted lips
might wheeze: it lives for this: the product of
desire, crab louse, Butterfly of Love.
Clara Bush Vadala is a poet and veterinarian in Celina, TX. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Thimble Literary Magazine, SWWIM, and 3Elements Review. She has written two collections of poems—Prairie Smoke (2017) and Beast Invites Me In (forthcoming 2020), which are available from Finishing Line Press.
Facebook: Clara Bush Vadala