Leah Mueller

Short History of Bad Relationships

Caught head lice in Mexico
from my younger brother.
My mother recommended 
pet shampoo, but it didn’t work. 

We took a trip to the ocean:
me riding shotgun, and
my siblings in the back seat. 

For two weeks, I pulled bugs 
from my scalp, flicked
them out the car window
into the highway. My sister helped. 

We were nitpicking.
Going through everything
With a fine-toothed comb.

Had one-night stand in Isla Mujeres
with a drunk frat boy from Texas.
I hope he caught my head lice.
We never spoke again,
so I never found out for sure.

A hurricane hit the island,
and I contracted dysentery.
I lay in my hotel bed, moaning
as the gales roared outside.

Back home in Chicago,
I gave my boyfriend head lice.
I didn’t tell him about 
the asshole from Texas.

My boyfriend was the jealous type
and prone to sudden violence.
He had to get a Kwell prescription
filled at the corner drugstore.

Later that morning I stood in the shower,
washed parasites from my scalp,
and watched nits swirl into the drain.
I didn’t think about the future, 
just the eradication of pests. 

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