I found myself standing outside, lost, twirling around in circles. I think we still call this season spring, even though many people skip around like summer already knocked, but I read somewhere recently that summer starts in another month; all of these people in Texas and in every other state have thirty more days to cross off their calendars. Why do they say already that summer arrived? They rush ahead, like a couple skipping ahead to the next season of their relationship when they clearly should have just stayed in spring. So I decided to crouch down, my nose inching closer and closer to the dirt and the ants that wandered around. The dirt seemed bumpy like dry elbows that scream for lotion, cracked with outlines that formed shapes like continents, but these ants cross over all the borders, like they want every stamp in their passport and like they know nothing about boundaries. I ask the ants, if it rains and the dirt turns to mud and the boundaries of the continents blur, do they, whoever they are, form new governments? One, two…seven, fifteen, eighteen. I watched these ants file in and out of these continents, and what do they do down there? In and out, in and out, this way, that way, this way, that way, changing directions like Peter’s denial, not once or twice, but three times. Does he even know who to follow? I saw one ant really spaz out like an epilepsy patient foaming at the mouth, like someone falling down the stairs, like a beginner trying advanced tap dancing. I read that ants have over 400 distinct odor receptors, compared to silk moths with 52, and fruit flies with 61. What? Fine, but can they even hear a thing? They scurry around, but I watch their life on mute, no matter how many of them gang up together and stomp around the continental dirt; it reminds me of falling in the lake as a child and looking up with wide eyes as I sank to the bottom and watched the world continue on above me. That sounds harsh, like they chose not to rescue me. When I think about that story again, I hope it ends better; I hope they rescue me. I crouched down so long I had sheet marks on my knees and I wonder where my skin went, smooth like a globe replaced with alligator skin. The train whistled, so in Maryland that signals dinner time. These ants must get hungry? Maybe they can meet me in Maryland for crisp spring vegetables, forget the summer watermelon.
This piece is my last assignment in Creative Writing in Ministry at Dallas Theological Seminary, and my first attempt at mimicking Annie Dillard’s style in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.