When I step on the anthill, the grains roll across my foot with all the grace

of fine desert sand. I find a flatness when I expect burn—remembering

the fire ants back home, how they climbed up my little legs. I have carried

that bite and itch with me forever. In my thick pine forest mornings, in my

white apartment nights. In every lonely summer afternoon. The black ants

pour out of the warm ground like sugar. I am full of water and the impulse

to kick. I spit on the grass, kissing the hot air. My latest kiss. An erasure.


When ants go out and forage for sugar,

they go on a walk together,

their slick black bodies arranged neatly

into an embroidery thread

or a strand of black hair on this patch of red earth.

They balance fruit on their heads and move

across the gingham blanket

in this watermelon summer

without swaying on their tiny little legs.

Instinct is its own kind of path,

it leaves an imperceptible smell

in a straight line

towards the things we live for.

Fact: ant queens can live for thirty years.

The workers around her die like long days.

The only work is more making.

Natalie Jane Edson is a queer poet and computer programmer based in Portland, Oregon. Her artistic practice centers around process—some combination of algorithm, iteration, divination and letting the subconscious mind speak for itself. She published a chapbook, BALACLAVA, in June 2019 and is currently working on her debut full-length manuscript.

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