Ten Minutes After We Are Notified of an Outbreak of Headlice at Our Daughter’s School

Real or imaginary

I can feel them

scuttling about my scalp


prising apart follicles

to gossip with their neighbours

in whispers


I try to be calm

as I run my fingers

through my hair


I try to be calm

as I scratch and scratch and scratch

not quite frenzied


there is no evidence on my fingers

nothing under my nails

but still, I can feel them


their cobweb legs land

on the fine edges of nerves

sending sparks all through me


I slap my palm on my scalp

over and over and over

I swear, I can hear them laughing



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