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Pheromones and Mistakes

Poetry, Hailey Spencer

I didn’t know I’d have to carry the universe

when you grasped my fingers and hid inside

my galaxies, dragged me away from the

ants in the kitchen sink, and whispered

that I should really sit down for this one.

I slipped backward two summers

to the six-legged graveyard that filled

the bathtub in my soft and sacred home.

An instruction manual for moving on.

Back then I was an encyclopedia of insect facts,

had written ten to sixteen poems about them

before giving up and washing them down the drain.

Death left in the colony harms the living

They only tell the two apart by smell, but

it can be misleading. Living corpses, confused

by scent, floating down the river with the dead

but I don’t know if the inverse is true, if they’d

leave the dead inside provided it smelled right

even after the legs twitched and folded gently in.


Hailey Spencer is, in the words of her wife Elizabeth, an absolute cloud of a girl. She is obsessed with fairy tales and has an equally passionate rivalry with ants. She is the author of the poetry collection Stories for When the Wolves Arrive and the chapbook Out of Love in Spring. She can be found at or on her Instagram, @out_of_love_in_spring.


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