A Tale of Two Ants

A Tale
Of two Ants?

I walk the 2 ½ mile path at the site
of the old Air Force Training center
in Hobbs, New Mexico, whose claim to fame
is that Jimmy Stewart trained here—

Over the early summer mornings,
I observe the cactus, mesquite, and golf course
grass. The desert’s flora and fauna labor at reclaiming
the concrete foundations and roads. We surprise
Jackrabbits, cotton tails, and the occasional bull snake
from our circuitous path.

Several days prior to this morning’s ant,
one stole my attention, struggling with a single
French fry, as if conducting an orchestra
With the world’s largest baton. A believed an act
of monumental hubris. I thought, she’s refusing
to settle for the easy task and attempting
an epic project—for a common ant.

That was until the next morning, when I spied
one of her sisters—common workers, you may
recall—are female. Today’s ant struggled
with a feather, as if dusting her retreating path
of her slight footprints. A potato fry I can see
—edible, though surely not healthy, even for ants.

But what did this diligent creature see in a feather?
There seemed sparse meat on that bone. My
wife suggested a domestic reason—to sweep
the den, or a dreamer one: it wanted to discover
the secrets of flight?

Yet,
I could not question that ant, could I? Most of us plod
day to day, to earn our daily French fry, some taking on
insurmountable odds—but there are a few of us,
who do struggle with that feather, as pointless
as that registers to others.

Some are content to return from market
with today’s groceries after the grueling day’s work
—keep the family fed—satisfy the lower quadrants
of Maslow’s Pyramid. Yet, others seem unsatiated
by that single feat, demanding to supplement
life’s struggle with art.

Or maybe, I was misinterpreting my observation.

Maybe, with my limited knowledge of ant anatomy,
I had not considered—that it might have been
the same ant both days
or wouldn’t it seem profound to think so—
—struggling
to fill her nearby den’s food larder the initial trip,
only to return days later with an answer to its aesthetics.

3 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Ants

  1. I love this, but I see it as a commentary, rather than a poem. But I love it. And one more tidbit about the former Hobbs Army Airfield is that the husband of Agnes DeMille, (yes, a relative of movie director Cecil B. DeMille) also trained there for several weeks during WW II. Agnes wrote a couple of autobiographies, and in one of them she mentions her visit to dusty, tiny Hobbs to see her man. I learned of this a year or so after I moved from Hobbs to Hilo, Hawaii in 1978. Agnes came to the Big Island for some dance lectures, at the tail end of her career. I sent a reporter to interview her, but I also found that autobiographical book in the local library. I was shocked to see the mention of Hobbs. That made me want to meet her, but alas, she had moved on. About a year later, even though I was an editor, I was allowed to go to the Mauna Kea summit for the dedication of the Canada/France/USA telescope. I was seated at a table of executives who had manufactured parts for the observatory. The guy asked me where I was from on the Mainland, and when I told him Hobbs, he said “Heck, I’ve been there. Went through on a trip to the observatories in Arizona.” At the time of those encounters, I thought I would never ever see Hobbs again. About three years after the telescope discussion, I ended up right back there.

  2. I forgot to mention above that Agnes is most famous for the choreography in the original Broadway production of “Oklahoma!” right around the time she made her short visit to Hobbs. Of course she did many other significant things in the dance/theater world.

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