Sunday, April 23, 2006

Will Not Have Died In Vain
Something has been spilt,
and in a way I feel responsible.
Oh, it wasn't me, but nonetheless,
a stain has been left.
Something should be done.

Now I must admit it's not a dark stain.
As a matter of fact,
you can hardly discern it's there,
yet there's no denying its presence.
Whatever it is, I can tell it's sweet.
Whatever it is, I can tell it's desirable.
And how do I know this?
Easy. It's the ants.
There's got to be twenty to thirty of those
tiny red sort scurrying back and forth,
one edge of the stain to the other.
Red ants flowing red to red
with red in between, and
there at one edge trailing off the porch
and away into the lawn.
Well okay, we've got a problem here.
I mean,
I've encountered ants of this sort before.
The outcome was not pretty.

You see, those ants kinda figure that
whatever it is, soaked deep into the porch carpet,
it’s somehow theirs for the taking.
It's as if these red ants have decreed some sort of
manifest destiny and a right to that which is
undeniably in my domain.
Call me petty but this I cannot abide.
I step away into the house,
return with a weapon of somewhat enough destruction,
and with the slightest depression of its nozzle,
mow them all down.

And you'd think that would be the end of it.
But no.
Those that I just killed
had nothing to do with the decision to be there.
No. That decision was made a long way away,
somewhere out in the distant green of the yard.

The following morning
I step out onto the porch to now find
hundreds of ants swarming over the invisible stain.
Again the can of Raid comes out.
Again the death.
The morning after,
yet hundreds more,
and with them,
more death.

It all seems
so easy.
You'd think they'd have figured this out.
Imminent domain? Nah.
I live here.
You ants?
You die here.
What were you thinking?
What did you hope to gain?

Pondering their conviction,
I decide to go to the source, and you know,
it's no big deal getting there.
Their being an industrious sort:
what's so hard about finding a hill with
ants spewing out of it?

There deep in the mound,
I can't help but wonder what the
topic of discussion is for the day.
"Ahem... Sir? Sir! I have a question.
Yes sir.
Well over a thousand ants
have died over there on the porch and
all it really amounts to is our desire for what
spilt and soaked into the carpet."
"Absolutely not!"
comes a booming voice from deep in the hole.
"It was never about the stain.
It was about securing the porch.
It was about making the porch safe for all ants.
And what has happened?
Ants have died.
But I want you to know,
those ants will not have died in vain.
It’s hard work. Hard work.
We must stay the course."
"But they're dying by the hundreds," the tiny voice retorts.
And to this the booming voice makes its final rebuttal.
"Yes. And they will not have died in vain."
By the time I return to the porch,
it’s again overrun with a multitude of ants.
I douse the stain with yet another fog of Raid
and when it clears,
I figure there has to be close to 1900 dead ants lying there.

Not about the stain?
Of course it's about the oil.
...Oops! Did I say 'oil'?
I meant stain.
Yes, stain.
It will be about the stain until
there's so much red that
no one cares about the
black stuff ever again.

©05 Jack Hubbell

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