The girl in the elevator smells like you but I say nothing.
I cannot have her catch me noticing the tumult of
her body. We have nearly exhausted the ant poison.
They drag it all to their homes. We do not need
to persuade the ants of anything not any more. I always look
like you do ghosted in the windows of the night kitchen.
My bare arms shake like yours do boiled in your shell
with unspent sleep. Across your open eyes a troop of ants
feet jellied sclera cornea vitreous humour. Things grow
well here in the smear of light. Like germs. Like seeing
the same movie over and over. An ant has eight eyes
crowning his forehead. Eyes that crawl across the ceiling
of the old house, eyes that crawl into her mouth
when she is sleeping. A blind is king left in the corner
ants crowning his forehead they told him they love him
The king I mean. She told him she loved him. Not the king
I mean the blue boy. She told him his name was blue
he had long eyelashes and his face was painted
like a dog’s face an experiment in recklessness
in shoving fistfuls of dirt against his gums.
Every night the same story :
a mermaid pulls a sailor from the chokehold of the sea
She left her nipple in his mouth. I left a pair of naked eggs
on the countertop to cool. In the morning they were awake
with ants. I know an egg is a dream. I know the whole sky
is covered in ants. I know every star has six legs
and brings poison home to its family. How can you live
in a place like this? The world I mean. I see one
dancing on the lip of the butter knife. An ant. The world.
I mean it wasn’t good enough. She said she saved him
from drowning in the yolk of a dream. He spent a whole year
scratching at her thighs as if he might find fish scales there.
ELEANOR PENNY is a poet, essayist and journalist. Prizes include the Verve Poetry Festival Prize 2020 and the Poetry London Prize 2020. She’s the host of poetry podcast Bedtime Stories for the End of the World, and her debut pamphlet Mercy is forthcoming with Flipped Eye.