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Lice, a Poem by Nora Hutton Shepard

by | Aug 10, 2023

The school reported lice marching
down her yellow braid onto
her spelling book. She was sent home.
Her sister was sent home from camp,
with her own congregation of lice.

At each revelation of this plague,
their mother would scrub and scrub
their heads—insecticide shampoos;
she combed and combed their hair
with a little metal louse comb.

She bleached the towels and the sheets,
soaked their clothes in hot, hot water.
And when the school reported lice
on their classmates, their mother fingered
each lock of their hair, magnified, lit

under strong lights, to see and catch
the nits. One night at dinner, they jumped up,
both girls, with their almost dry, disheveled hair,
to unpin their mother’s mane. With their
small fingers they began to scrabble through

their mother’s wild tresses with uncontrolled
giggles. What are you doing? their mother
protested. Well Mom, we’re going to get
that little comb. We need to catch the roaches.
You’ve got roaches. Mom. They’re crawling.

Nora Hutton Shepard

Nora Hutton Shepard is a poet and alumna of N.C. State’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing program, as well a graduate of the MFA Writer’s Program at Warren Wilson College. She taught poetry courses at N.C. State before relocating to Davidson in 2019 to be closer to her daughter’s family. Nora has quickly acclimated to life in Davidson and is a wonderful addition to our Community.

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