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  • Writer's pictureNadia Giordana

Things Ants Taught Me

Things Ants Taught Me

I watch the ants, towering above them, the way Zeus

and his fellow gods and goddesses looked down upon

the earth from the cloud-clothed heights of Olympus.

Today, the ants are toiling in tireless lines as they raise

the fine grain levees around sidewalk cracks,

in the center of each, a smooth mound, like a tiny ziggurat

strives heavenward in the infinitesimal orbs of its making.

I study the dark shine of the ants’ copper bodies.

I know exoskeletons do not have pores,

that these industrious laborers are not living by the sweat

of their brows, but they are working as if driven by a purpose divine.

What do they think of me standing over them, observing their orderly lines—

a human cloud casting a dark shadow.

With one step, I could crush their intent, sweep all their efforts away.

But the ants pay me no heed.

Maybe they do not fear fate or the gods or the human debate to step

or not to step, to let them live or let them die.

I stand in awe of their drive to survive,

at their commitment to give all to their cause,

at their devotion to work without pause,

at their obedience to the laws nature has written across their tiny ant hearts.

Mostly, I am stunned by their willingness to die trying.

—Dr. Peter Sheponik

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