by Vernie Lynn DeMille


Shin height

Your pyramid stands

As I stride like a giant

Amid the dry grass

Of a side meadow.


Red and black

I watch you scatter

Across the field floor

On your way to lay up

The last provisions.


There is no hurry

In your movements

And I must conclude

That your pantries are full

And your pupae fed.


Two of you

Wander slowly

Back and forth across

The domed top of your temple,

Like thatcher’s finishing their work.



They return to the small opening,

Into what I know must be

A dark and comforting canyon

Of passages and rooms.


It would be easy

To destroy your home

And what would it matter

To me, a giant beside your palace,

With the power of death in my feet?


But there is one;

One lone ant

Carrying a pebble twice his size

Up the side of the hill,

With his mouth.


He stumbles

But keeps his grip.

He flails his front legs

To feel for the ground before him,

And keep his footing.


He falls

Again and again

But keeps going until

He reaches a spot near the peak

And places his pebble carefully.


He taps it

With his front legs

And heads back down,

Stopping to greet another

And tangle antennae for a moment.


I look down

At the top of your dome

And the pebble is lost

In the mass of other pebbles;

But it was his labor.


He moved a mountain,

One I tower over,

But it is still a mountain;

And I quiet my feet.

There is no death in them now.


I glance up

At a pale moon in a blue sky,

And wonder what my towers look like

To God in His endless Heavens.

How small an anthill I have built.


But it is mine.

It is my labor,

This field of grass and sunshine

And children with open books

And pencils set to paper.


I pray

He stills His feet

And gives me time

To place a few more pebbles

Before the winter comes.

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