It begins between pinched fingers,
the sting of salt inside a bitten nail.
When I first looked away from you,
I found two ants cresting the pantry door,
breadcrumb boulders in their mouths,
overwhelmed. Where they exhausted, met their end,
I cannot trace, like the spit you thrash
and hock into the sink each morning while I doze.
The refuse. What we cannot swallow, force mouths
to trash. What comes from biting, picking
wrong words right—roll them
like whiskey, seek their fumes—
how the burning thrills, and
anger sublimates. Later you take
into your mouth a swatch of hair,
an earlobe, a cry for God,
feel the g on your tongue, avenging
its strength in pleasure.
I wrote this poem while subletting a friend's apartment in a new neighborhood of a familiar city. The dual and conflicted feelings of being at home/being a stranger got me started. The ants, unfortunately, were some of my actual roommates.