EVEN WITH ANTS CRAWLING DOWN IT
Even with ants crawling down it
like lava and nuggets of black ash, an ant heap
is not a volcano that threatens Atlantis
with a caldera like the gem of a third eye
that just fell out of orbit like a halo and lies
embedded on the bottom close to a fumarole
mythically inflating cucumber worms.
My subconscious is trying to associate
with me again. There’s a crack
in my oracular tortoise shell it’s trying
to squeeze through by slipping
the continental plates of my prophetic skull
like the San Andreas fault, chief
among the lifelines on the palm of my hand.
Not Kufu’s Great Pyramid on the Giza Plateau.
Sand at the bottom of an hourglass,
Sumeru, the world mountain, not a ziggurat
or an Aztec temple, the barrow tomb of a Celtic king.
Do ants have architects like Imhotep?
Do they think they’re going to be born again
among the stars, women to Isis in Sirius,
men to Osiris in Orion, the Duat.
Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka. Maybe
they were undertakers in another life,
urns and canopic jars, given the way
they keep retrieving body parts from No Man’s Land.
Butterfly wings and bees curled like commas
in death, as if death were just a pause,
and the sickly sweet smell of embalming fluid
though it’s only formic acid. Same thing
in stinging nettles. Is an antheap a surgical theatre?
I’m propped up by an elbow on a mat of dry grass.
The kind you put between your teeth
as if you had all the time in the world
to see who gets the short straw. The mind
is an artist. Able to paint the worlds. At the moment
my body’s an easel in a waking dreamscape
with emphasis on my evanescence. I’m
as coherently directive as a road of smoke
that really doesn’t care where it’s going.
I’m taking out a second mortgage on my afterlife
just for a little peace now as the lake laps
at the intransigence of the rocks scarred
by glaciers calving water prematurely at the North Pole.
Here in this leper colony of a birch grove
the beavers are making pioneer forts out of,
as if there were always something you had to be
on guard for, bush wolf, road superintendent
with blasting caps, or fisher, let it come, let it come, let it come
whether life is as effortless as a gift,
or hard labour when birth gets turned around
and bringing things into the world isn’t
as much of a joy as it used to be. If they
had to move Ramses II to a shelter for
homeless mummies in the Valley of the Kings,
I’m not going to spend my life watching a starmap
for dawn to break. This strange sentience
that animates me to free associate
the hardy blue of the chicory with the eyes
of several women I’ve loved, and soon,
the New England asters like mystics in daylight
with starclusters among the lolling goldenrod,
this is about as monumental as it gets. This,
just as it is, red winged blackbirds among
the wild roses, talons and thorns, a solitary bunting
singing to the sky at the top of a bedraggled cedar,
this ant heap I’m keeping my distance from
is the cornerstone of my tribute to the stillness
of the abyss in motion, all I am of any worth to offer.
This rock of starmud from a habitable planet
I hurl overhand into the undulant quiescence
of the waters of life just to hear the frogs plop.