Martinsburg, West Virginia

We were in the state side of the jail. My cellmate would sit and make faces at the federal prisoners from the window. Every meal we got a roll and he would save half his roll and feed it to the ants throughout the day. When they came through the wall, he’d block the hole with wet bread so they wouldn’t leave. He named the ants, each one. He would speak to them, answer for them, and herd them like cows.

He was in for beating his wife.

This is a reprint of work originally published in Humble Humdrum Cotton Frock.

Elisabeth Blair is a poet, composer and feminist podcaster currently based in Michigan. Her poetry has previously appeared in publications including S/tick, Wicked Alice, Dead Flowers: A Poetry Rag, The Literary Bohemian, Lilliput Review, and Acumen. In 2016 her first chapbook, We He She/It, was published by dancing girl press. In 2017 she was an associate artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, studying with poet Heather McHugh.

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