Study of an Ant on Stilts | Caleb Jay Howard
How kind that fire ants signal their anger
with red. Brick bodies, scavenged clay,
inflamed crests of skin. Needle-nosed.
Three-part bodies bookended with thorns.
How we respond with borax, boot heels,
magnifying glasses to pleat a fold of sun.
How we watch them colonize,
piling grains of dirt by the million,
and topple them with a footstep.
How we flatten them daily,
our personal Gomorrah, and spit red
when they return in the summer.
How they return, grain after grain,
crumb-nosed, red as a sunset.
I keep expecting the world to end
with camera-shaking violence. A flash
staining my apartment window blood-orange:
an eruption, explosion, mutual launching.
A blip on a phone before the earth
uproots and something is lost.
Some alien archaeologist will claim
they loved too much
Or they built their world in the palm
of a monster. They’ll scour our phones’
data chips, millions of digital
Rosetta Stones for desperate I love you’s.
They’ll study the twisted metals spiraling
from potted foundations like stems,
identifying hospitals by their deposits of helium,
the bars and churches by skeletons.
They’ll construct our timeline to the impact event,
down to each ant bed kicked, each three-headed
composite huddled around a half-standing hearth,
to the millisecond before
a sudden and incontrovertible bang
too late for us to hear.
In lieu of an author bio, this author has requested that Lammergeier redirect readers' attention to the Atlanta Solidarity Fund.