Michal doesn’t like ants

the smell of sweat,
nor the color yellow,
or sand, pears, bananas,
green vegetables, orange vegetables
windows you can’t see into,
grinding of teeth, the sound of swallowing,
triangles, octagons, heart shapes
buses, taxies.

Michal bicycles by the same way
on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
on Wednesdays she preferred the seafront.
Michal didn’t notice people much,
for example, on that Wednesday
she didn’t notice the man entering “Porcupine Café”,
on the Tel-Aviv promenade
with nervous eyes.

When the blast wave hit
Michal wasn’t hunched
the explosion circled the air
for a fifth of a second.
She felt the convulsion of her eardrum,
of her heart muscle, of her stomach
The blaze lit the café,
the air was welling in thickness.
Paper scraps, shards of glass, a hat,
drops of blood, white broken mugs.

Michal remembered only that,
she had read once, that Fight or Flight,
takes three seconds to initiate
The time it takes
to pucker your lips, to focus a camera,
fourteen rat heartbeats.
The time it takes an African Horn Lizard
to eat forty-five ants
one at a time.

Yael Geva
This poem was Highly Commended in the 2013 Poems Please Me Prize competition

Artist: Jon C Munson II

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