Are We Still Here?
Between the woodpile and the window
a line of small black ants is moving,
some to the north, some to the south.
Their constant industry is admirable,
as are their manners when they pause
in meeting to exchange a touch.
I must have brought their home inside
for fuel, heating my small house.
And if it burned I too would move
along all points of the compass rose,
touching my neighbors on the path.
by David Mason
I like this extended metaphor about people and ants. Even though they are incredibly busy, ants will stop to greet their neighbors and colleagues. I wish I could keep my own purposes in sight just like the ants do.
This poem reminds me that close observation of what is going on around me can keep me intrigued. I love Mason’s observations about ant etiquette. How often I see good, neighborly/family manners in my cats. When they jump up on my bed, they greet me. When they are fed they will often take a little lap of gratitude around my ankles before they tuck in. I would like to have the sense of purpose that ants have. Thinking of them, however, is decent medicine. My neck won’t move much today and it hurts a lot less when I am reading provocative poems about animals.
Each poem is a little elegy, I find. I never know if it will be the last poem I read. Or perhaps I won’t meet up with this poem again.
As an invalid, I’m bemused and very anxious about the sundry people who want to visit me or have me come to visit them. One of my sisters is paying a visit soon. She did not ask me if, when, why, or where. She’s coming with her granddaughter later this month. She sent me a list of things they want to do. The Zoo? How splendid but I cannot walk around for more than 10 minutes maximum and then I’m totally wiped out. She has a non-refundable ticket. I can’t drive anymore although I might take a chance on 3 or 4 blocks in the broad light of the day. But I can’t pull off a job like a perfect ant.