Sunday, May 01, 2005


There are ants in the house, mostly in the kitchen, where sticky countertops and floors reflect our hectic two-child life. An afternoon wiping them dead with wet paper towels is unsatisfactorily temporary, like routing an endless army from a single battlefield: ten minutes, an hour, the next morning under the coffeepot tiny black particles stagger among spilled grounds. We've even vacuumed them up. Relentless, they return, popping around cabinet doors, chair legs, dirty mugs beside the sink.

These ants come in two distinct types. The first, a tiny ubiquitous breed that scatter in all directions like so many tiny sunspots along the linoleum, seem to be coming through the heating vent, though of course old wooden houses like ours are riddled with tiny warp-and-woof floorslat crevices, gaping cracks where doors rot away from their moulding. Then there are their larger cousins who, though less populous, seem to have infested the pantry cabinets; it is these sumo ants who scurry across the sink fearless while the dishwater water runs.

The ants, too, are a metaphor for everything. They way they've infiltrated the house. The way they come back day after day. The way they scurry to and fro, reclaiming spaces we thought were ours. As our time here grows short, the twofold darkness comes in at the corners: the jobsearch begins to close fruitless; the unsupportable family grows, demands, becomes rich and full even as the unthinkable future flows headlong in our direction, dark as molasses, shiny as polished stones, as inevitable as an army.

posted by boyhowdy | 3:35 PM |

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