“The Seekers of Lice” is a twenty-line poem divided into five quatrains of Alexandrines with a rhyme scheme of abab. The title suggests an unpleasant topic, playing against the beauty of the poet’s words. Sensory images are everywhere in the poem. In the first line, “the child” is introduced; his forehead is covered with “the red torment” caused by the lice. Two “tall gracious sisters” appear “with delicate hands and silvery fingernails.” In the second quatrain, these sisters remove the child from his bed and seat him by an “open window.” The child is bombarded by the visual sensations of the outside natural world and the sensual fingers of the sisters running through his infested hair.
The child is experiencing more than the removal of the lice, however; he is being tenderly loved by these “tall gracious sisters.” In the third quatrain, the child hears the sisters singing through their breathing and whistling as they suck in their saliva. The images and the very words used express the child’s heightened auditory experience. The images from the third quatrain are surreal; the child is almost in a trance. He is under the spell of the sisters as they caress his predicament away. The last line of the third quatrain includes “the desire for kisses.” The child’s experience has taken on an erotic quality. The fourth quatrain describes how he hears the sound of the sisters’ black eyelashes “blinking.” He...
(The entire section is 406 words.)