Sugar Ants

Poetry

 By Kaitlin Schmidt

It occurred to me today, (so long ago)
that you are a bit like the sugar ants that
crawl across my grandmother’s kitchen counter.
Let me tell you about them.

She never could keep them out.

During the dry months
when the heat breeds heavy hopelessness in the air,
the ants scuttle in to escape it.
In, in, in from the house’s every seam
from between the blonde trim and the wall
from behind a loose outlet cover
easiest of all, from a windowsill.
They have no mass no limits nothing slows them.
They are minute dots, black wisps in my vision as they explore
the cool white porcelain sink. They like it there, I think.

We lay honey traps for them sometimes.
What if we could capture them all in that vicious sweetness?
What if then we toss them outside to die in it? Or be licked up by some bigger,
greater thing?
What if we could keep them out?
Foolish. Even I, in my snowglobe-youth,
even I understand how sugar ants come and go just as they please.

And then sometimes we resign to the guests.
Perhaps the black sand grains spend lunch with us,
trekking across our table expecting us to
abandon our crumby plates to their chaos.

But we don’t. We simply can’t let them feed here.
It would be satisfying, you know. To let them go to work feasting.
Grandma and I could watch their gruesome work and become silent
while we finish our tea.
But we don’t. This is only their summer home.
We try not to be too accommodating, so that maybe they will find a better place to venture.
There is still hope that next summer, we will keep them out.
Eventually, I think we might. We will need more honey.

With their etch-a-scetch existence shaken away, though, how very still the kitchen will be.

We will need more honey.

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