Image by Kaido Vainomaa

Self-Portrait with Fire Ants

Pascale Petit


Self-Portrait with Fire Ants

Pascale Petit


Self-Portrait with Fire Ants

To visit you Father, I wear a mask of fire ants.
When I sit waiting for you to explain

why you abandoned me when I was eight
they file in, their red bodies

massing around my eyes, stinging my pupils white
until I’m blind. Then they attack my mouth.

I try to lick them but they climb down my gullet
until an entire swarm stings my stomach,

while you must become a giant anteater,
push your long sticky tongue down my throat,

as you once did to my baby brother,
French-kissing him while he pretended to sleep.

I can’t remember what you did to me, but the ants know.

 


from The Zoo Father (Seren, 2001), © Pascale Petit 2001, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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