—after Robert Hass
Last year in Chapultepec Park, just before sunset,
my eye caught a long stream of purple winding
through the grass: a trail of ants—each one adorned
with a jacaranda petal moving as if in a funeral procession.
"Zapotec ants," I thought. "Day of the Dead."
At midnight they'll ride winged boats
and feast on sugar skulls.
This afternoon I fell asleep to the radio—
The letters detached from words and floated
as if in sleep soup while the ers and ums
invaded speech, like ants coming through my walls.
Life, you said, is a zoological Matryoshka doll.
Animalia, Insecta, Formicadae: ant.
Only the center holds the self.
At home in Miami, you use a wooden spoon
as a makeshift bridge between the infested
key-lime tree and a bowl of bleach. We lean on the kitchen counter
watching the ants march unknowingly toward their deaths,
their V-shaped antennas waving like military chevrons in the air.
I am not sure where this poem is going right now.
I just let the words make their own lines
like a file of ants on an implied path.
Everything, now, is unseen but known,
just as I am certain there are ants
hidden in the blades of grass,
waiting with mute patience to be noticed.