A Poem by Charissa Menefee



They find me in the living room

chair, on the couch, in the bed.


Anywhere I am, they are.

I can never find where they get


in, can never track a solid line,

and they appear only when


I am nursing—or trying to

nurse—my newborn.


Emblematic of my failure, they come

for the sweet breast milk, which


seems to be everywhere except in this

apparently ever-shrinking baby.



When I lift the lid off the candy dish

on the top shelf, I see wrappers, still


round in the middle and twisted on the

sides, but with only pockets of air inside.


Digging around, I find a wrapper with a

tiny ant in it, carrying a minute speck of


candy—sugar ants have dismantled each

lozenge, piece by piece, and stolen them.


How many hours, days, weeks, months

has this operation been going on, workers


slipping in through a sliver of air between

bowl and lid, sneaking into sealed packages?



Why are the sugar ants here?  So that I’ll try

to get at least one more ounce of milk in this baby?


I can see, somewhere, a hill, astonishing in size,

made up of tiny mouthfuls of candy.





Charissa Menefee teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing & Environment at Iowa State University. Her chapbook, WHEN I STOPPED COUNTING, is available from Finishing Line Press. Her recent poems can also be found in TERRENE, ADANNA, AMYGDALA, and Telepoem Booths in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Her new play, OUR ANTIGONE, adapted from Sophocles, was premiered by Iowa’s Story Theatre Company in March.


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