Fire ants by Deb Grant
Their thirty-five day lives are spent
Their only thriving is done
In the dry heat and sudden rain
And tending to their replacements.
A massive operation.
They are built to move in mass.
They colonize. They teem. They swarm.
Defensive action is to bite.
A single bite is annoying.
A swarm could fell a deer.
Singularity is not even a luxury.
They could not survive alone.
Every rain surfaces their disaster plan.
They are built to survive a flood.
As the flood rises, the ants take action.
Linking ant legs and mouths,
they weave themselves
Into a raft in a minute
moving queen and Infants
to the center in the highness and dryness
Of their now seaworthy community.
A buoyancy of bodies
with fine hairs trapping just enough air
barely breaking surface tension
Keeping the whole colony afloat
Until the ark of their covenant
Arrives, not back home again,
But on new dry land.
Wading humans lifting and pulling legs
Through flood waters
Are warned of floating fire ant mounds.
The rafted colony is fully armed.
Locked and loaded for survival
They are ready to pull the trigger and
Light a fire on the flesh that water
Cannot douse or sooth.
Humans are warned to watch.
Of the drifting rage of rafted ants.
Keep your distance.
Leave them to their disaster plan.
You tend to your own.
Our disaster plan if there is one
Starts as one. One person. One household.
Our plan is to climb away alone
or walk out alone.
We drag our wet legs alone
Through the thigh deep sewage avoiding
The dangers we can see.
Unaware of the dangers
To which we cling.
The fire ants float with the current,
linked by legs and mouths
Accepting their need for
To one another.
It comes naturally to them.
The rest of us drag our wet legs
Into the truth that
we need each other.
Or we navigate alone and
Steer clear of both the
ants and their lesson
of intimate survival. ◘◘
(From STORM by Deb Grant, available on Amazon,www.jazzwater.com and her Etsy shop: Jazzwater - Copyright by Deb Grant)