FIRE ANT


Today I am a fire ant, ready
to devour anything
in my path. I live
in a series
of complicated tunnels
just beneath the surface
like varicose veins pressing
against the skin
of some fat human’s leg.

Photo credit: National Geographic
My sisters and I surge
like blood; we pulse,
a million bodies
with just one mind:
feed the queen,
guard her,
keep the larvae
safe. We never sleep,
we just grow still
and then click to life
once again, delicate legs
dancing in pairs,
powerful mandibles grabbing dirt
and stone and bark.

When the water rises
in the river nearby,
we link together, tarsal claw
to tarsal claw, crafting
a raft of red bodies
on which the queen
and larvae will float
until we find land.

We pile onto one another
until we are thick enough
to hold our precious cargo,
and slippery-lipped fish
pick us off from below
while the rest of us almost drown.


Our bodies are porous,
able to absorb the world’s oxygen
and exhale without lungs.
We may be single-minded.
We may sting and feed
our mates to our young.
But when faced
with catastrophe
we survive and still
have the strength to rebuild
what we’ve lost.

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