Sandra Alcosser

Spittle Bug

I watched an insect dive
upside down in a crystal bowl.
Magnified, it resembled
a friend’s identity crisis —
red eyes, amorphous body
arched like a scorpion.
Probing the water with an iris stem,
I rescued the swimmer,
helped it crawl to the vase lip,
then complimented myself, as if
the bug were my own invention.
It rested on the flower’s parchment,
hyperventilating, while I went off
to a day’s work. When I returned
it had climbed higher, slathering
purple flesh with froth. Stalled
in one spot like an indulgent head
lost in shampoo, it had taken
the sweet petals with it,
rolling them in babble,
till they were stunted and scabbed.
It looked so harmless at first
roiling in its own spit,
I think I shall call it
gossip bug.

Sandra Alcosser’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Paris Review, Ploughshares, Poetry and the Pushcart Prize Anthology. She received two individual artist fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and her books of poetry, A FISH TO FEED ALL HUNGER and EXCEPT BY NATURE, received the highest honors from the National Poetry Series, Academy of American Poets and Associated Writing Programs, as well as the Larry Levis Award and the William Stafford Award for Poetry. Her four artist book collaborations with Brighton Press have been exhibited internationally and reside in museum and special collections including The National Museum of Women in the Arts and Musee d’art Americain Giverny. She was the National Endowment for the Arts’ first Conservation Poet for the Wildlife Conservation Society and Poets House, New York, as well as Montana’s first poet laureate and recipient of the Merriam Award for Distinguished Contribution to Montana Literature. She founded and directs San Diego State University’s MFA each fall.


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