The Lice Seekers
When, full of red torment, the child's troubled head
entreats the white swarm of shadowy dreams,
two gentle grown-up sisters come up to his bed
with fragile fingers like silver-tipped machines.

Before a casement window they sit the child down,
a window open wide to where the azure air
bathes a tangle of flowers, and upon his tousled crown
their terrible, fine fingers move with magical care.

He listens to the sighing of their apprehensive breath
which smells of the long honeys of the fecund earth,
interrupted now and then by a subtle hiss:
saliva caught on the lip --- or desire for a kiss.

He hears their dark eyelashes flicker overhead
in the sweet-smelling silence, and their sovereign fingers, sweet,
electric in his languidness meet
in a crackle: little lice are dead.

And there rises in him the wine of listlessness,
delirium-inducing accordion-sigh.
He feels with the slowness of each careful caress
endlessly surging and ebbing the desire to cry.

--- Arthur Rimbaud
Anthony Weir, Translator
From Dissident Editions
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