August 4

8_4.jpg

We found a man
under a beech tree.
We could sense air
in this chest and his
feet gave hints
of motility,
the articulations
of sprints to come.
He blinked his eyes
like a bird
but made no sound
other than breath.

He was covered
with ants the size
of watermelon seeds,
black as wasp stings
in the dark.

Some of us
panicked,
called for help,
but the ants had the kind
of motionlessness we attribute
to scabbing or winter planets
or unborn peony blooms.
The man might
have been their
ward,
this man, who we first
took for dead,
a body transverse
on a green and living axis.
One of us
reached
and the ants swarmed
like sand in an upturned hour
glass, went still
when the hand withdrew,
like dew.

They watched us, the ants,
with eyeballs surmised,
each a small painting,
a grain of potential motion,
high notes on the wind,
protecting the very meaning
of quiet, breath,
warm blood flow.

One by one we
departed,
disheartened, agnostic.
We left the man to his ants,
or the ants to their man,
fearing earthquake, tornado,
any experiment that might
alter the weight of oxygen.

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