Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2022  Vol.21  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Cimex lectularius Linnaeus

That they came unnoticed,
biblical, florid, soft red armies
crawling through the breathing meadow of our heat.
First the anesthesia injected imperceptibly.
Then the venom,
hundreds fatting on the host of us
while we slept in a rented room,
the bay stretching into darkness.
Brailed up and down our arms, our fingers,
like briars tatted to my neck, your shoulders,
like sequins stitching our cheekbones, our foreheads
with thorax, complex eyes, vestigial wings.
Afterwards, the itch, the burn, the caustic pox.
I just want to say that we were alive
like everything else,
hunger worshipping where it wants.
That when we woke to a strange discomfort,
the bay arriving into light,
wind in the eucalyptus grove,
we knelt beside the bed,
searching for molt and stain
and I thought of my late friend
writing, Every day I live, I live forever.
And then its corollary.
The beauty and desecration paired.
The body after death, how it will be taken back
and apart and given down to dirt, the seed of stars.
How we disappear to grow immense.
So the bedbugs were a revelation.
A kindness to sleep so unaware of the self
plundered, fed on, fastened to
as we unfastened our blood,
coming as it did from dark, from sun,
burnishing their translucent bodies brown.  

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