Taken from her book of poems, Native Guard.
by Natasha Trethewey
Today the ants are busy
beside my front steps, weaving
in and out of the hill they’re building.
I watch them emerge and ––
like everything I’ve forgotten –– disappear
into the subterranean –– a world
made by displacement. In the cemetery
last June, I circled, lost ––
weeds and grass grown up all around ––
the landscape blurred and waving.
At my mother’s grave, ants streamed in
and out like arteries, a tiny hill rising
above her untended plot. Bit by bit,
red dirt piled up, spread
like a rash on the grass; I watched a long time
the ants’ determined work,
how they brought up soil
of which she will be part,
and piled it before me. Believe me when I say
I’ve tried not to begrudge them
their industry, this reminder of what
I haven’t done. Even now,
the mound is a blister on my heart,
a red and humming swarm.