May 8th, 2009
“Once in the madhouse they came like specks of cinnamon…”
—Anne Sexton, from “Angels of the Love Affair”
One day he opened all the doors, all the windows, for fresh air.
“We should do this every week,” he said. “There are bugs
coming in,” I said. “They’ll go out again.” Now there are flies.
Last week I saw the first ants in the bathroom. Ants are always
possible. I poison the outside of the house, block up cracks with soap,
flood floors with vinegar. This time I said, “Go away.”
The next day they were gone. Maybe you just have to say something.
The night of the gnats there was peace—classical music on the radio,
needlepoint in hand (too many colors, too many small spots). Just
one crook-necked lamp on the table spotlighting the difference
between Light Purple and Light Grey Purple. And gnats circling the
bulb. There are dead gnats now. I should clean them off. I’m allergic
to fleas. Twice now, we’ve seen one flea on one cat. Twice
he’s run out for a little vial of poison that goes on the back
of their necks. It always works. “It was my fault,” he says.
“I was hanging out with dogs.” The spiders were here first.
I’ve gotten used to them. I find one twittering across my leg
watching TV, and just flick it onto the floor. The bedroom walls
are grey with dusty old spinnings. He keeps them at bay with brooms,
pulling down homes they rebuild the next day. He plays catch and
release, tossing them into the yard. They run back and knock on the
door. There’s an ugly one outside, black and yellow, guarding the
sticky gumball of an egg sack. “Common garden spider,” he says.
“Argiope aurantia.” The ants have come back to the bathroom.
Just three. Or four. I’m soaking wet in a puddle of vinegar and soap.
He comes home, opening the door with a gust of air and fresh moths.
–from Rattle #27, Summer 2007