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Devon Neal

I found it under my waistband after our hike,

its head burrowed, its stiff body between my fingers,

its hungry legs kicking. Now, two days later,

I know I shouldn’t worry, but the round pink

bite remains, and with it, a deep itch,

earth-deep, spreading outward, a tickling fire,

a prickling of tiny hairs down to the handlebars

of my pelvic bones, vibrating the marrow.

I don’t know how long it was there, and I know

I shouldn’t worry, but somehow it may have found

the truth of me, the flavor of my blood type,

the recipe of my cells. I pinched it, sticky

against my tender skin, and tossed it

into gurgling toilet water, but I think it found me

again, digging through wet soil to my roots,

spreading itch-dust until every scrape

on my scalp, every shoulder tingle, every

whisper twinge under blankets in the dark,

is it coming back, coming up for air,

this gravedigger, this vampire louse,

wriggling with a deep sting between my raw materials.

I know I shouldn’t worry.

Devon Neal

Devon Neal (he/him) is a Kentucky-based poet whose work has appeared in many publications, including HAD, Livina Press, The Storms, and The Bombay Lit Mag, and has been nominated for Best of the Net. He currently lives in Bardstown with his wife and three children.

Twitter: @DevMinor

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