by Susana Case

Vaseline, to get the botfly
out of his forehead again.
He’s had to do it three times; they creep
through the sticky film to breathe.

Do it, the guide advises, before the eggs
are laid, before the larvae burrow
and die, infecting their host.

Like you should have smeared yourself
that year you left a husband, before he
commandeered your vineyard in California

only to be irritated all over again
here in this jungle. The botfly’s spines
sharp, though less stinging than the wrong
partner, and without mouth parts.

And here you are, sobbing, because
the bumblebee-like bot, a true maggot,
mosquito hijacker, caused your warble,
the lump under your skin.

Susana Case is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Dead Shark on the N Train, from Broadstone Books, 2020, which won a Pinnacle Book Award for Best Poetry Book and a NYC Big Book Award Distinguished Favorite. She has co-edited, with Margo Taft Stever, the anthology I Wanna Be Loved by You: Poems on Marilyn Monroe, forthcoming in 2022 from Milk and Cake Press.