The Bite of a Rat
I wear gloves to cover the tears
in my fingers. Rats bite: nibbling
as I sleep. They call my flesh
sugar, ask if I had ambrosia for
dinner. I say I’m on a diet. They bite.
Middle of the night: my mom
calls my dad a rat, a scavenger,
digging his claws into abandoned
trash. I asked whose trash she was,
who discarded her, and she told me
to sleep with my hand outside the
covers. The rats bite.
I peel blisters off like stickers,
tangerine skin behind, salt to the
touch. Do you see the red circle in the
center of my palm? I clench my fist
and dig; my nails form a zig-zag X and
I wonder if I poured water in the
crevices if it would erode into a canyon
of the body. My hangnails are a secret.
I pull them off one by one and bleed
through the crevices, ripe for the
bite of a rat.
By Natalie Hampton
Natalie Hampton is a rising junior at the Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in the Creative Writing Department. She has been recognized at the National level of the Scholastic Art and Writing Competition and by the Harris County Department of Education, the Young Poets Network, the Pulitzer Center, and Ringling College of Art and Design. She serves as an editor at Polyphony Lit and Cathartic Literary Magazine. She has taken online workshops and classes with Iowa, Brown, Sewanee, and Ellipsis Writing.