Morning Ablutions

Nina Clements


Go to the sink and wash
your hands with ants. They itch,
but they’re good for the grit.

They are small and brown-black.
You have driven across
the country with no bath,

leaving everyone,
the husband most of all.
Now, California. Look

in the mirror. Ants crawl
up your arms to your face,
and you scrub again, dirt

falling away at last.


Nina Clements works as a librarian in Southern California. She earned an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College.