Sam Lohmann


I'll call this after a hypothetical animal that occurred to me this morning with three-year-old C. She agreed to go to the bathroom and wash her hands if we pretended to be zookeepers visiting the bathroom at the zoo. Did the bathroom have lots of sparkles?, she asked. Yes, I explained, the whole place, the toilet and sink were made of sparkles! Did some animals make it? Yes, sparkle termites. She didn't question this, and I didn't elaborate but privately resolved to try out being a sparkle termite, like a full glam borer or spy in the house of everything.

I let this sit a few days. Now Donald Trump has been elected president. I wasn't going to write about the election, resented its admonitions; also, with white liberal stupid complacency, thought it would be okay. I knew this was Nazi America but didn’t think half the voters would openly embrace the crudest racism (our many sophisticated racisms are something else, and shameless). Welp, wrong. So maybe Trump is the sparkle termite? He's got that shimmer of evil but he's just a slug. Sparkle termites are the opposite, building a tender Merzbau out of sparkles against whiteness. To what end?

I think of sparkles formally at first, as tiles that scatter, infiltrate, and cling to any surface or crevice, refracting at all angles. On walking into a room, the highest praise the three-year-old can give is “Sparkly!” A sparkle structure is cumulative, even fractally scalable, but prone to crumble and slide. We’re all preparing to be hoarders, sappers, encrypted accomplices, and arguing about wearing safety pins and whether “Love trumps hate” is a valid slogan. In carpentered places, termites are unbuilders; elsewhere, architects. On a hot afternoon I have seen clouds of winged ones emerge from a crack in asphalt.

Just now I heard rhythmic whirring and squeaking, and turned to see two hummingbirds in hazel scrub. One faced the sun and flashed a chest of the brightest magenta. Then they darted into blackberry brambles. Sparkle termites, plural, or incommensurate. I heard there were 55,000 protesters outside Trump Tower today. I keep catching myself trying to console myself. Now that it's been a week since the election, I can see how the slow-motion punch becomes normal. The way to keep it not-normal is to find a way to stand in the way. Termites, too, may be normal. Is love normal?

It's a stupid slogan, but I'm trying to keep love in sight at the same time I feel this big Fuck You ballooning in my chest every day. If love is a susceptible recognition of human particulars, that’s good methodology. Which is not to say I wouldn't kick some fascists in the balls. Sparkle termites of love, eating every president's wooden teeth. Sparkle termites hobbling the oak tables of the rich. Sparkle termites listening to Prince and crying. Sparkle termites swarming out of cracks as a crowd of mourners. Sparkle termites eating documents and registries and never coming to terms.