'I must have brought their home inside for fuel, heating my small house'

entry picture

This column has often emphasised the importance of poetry that notices what's right under our noses, and this poem by David Mason, the former poet laureate of Colorado, who is currently living in Tasmania, is a good example of what you can see if you stop to look. Mason's most recent book of poetry is The Sound: New and Selected Poems, from Red Hen Press.



by David Mason

Between the woodpile and the window
a line of small black ants is moving,
some to the north, some to the south.
Their constant industry is admirable,
as are their manners when they pause
in meeting to exchange a touch.
I must have brought their home inside
for fuel, heating my small house.
And if it burned I too would move
along all points of the compass rose,
touching my neighbors on the path.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2018 by David Mason, 'Are We Still Here?' (2018). Poem reprinted by permission of David Mason. Introduction copyright ©2019 by the Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-06.


◄ September: Cherry Doyle, Offa's Press

Simon Armitage aims high with first poem as poet laureate ►


Profile image

M.C. Newberry

Thu 25th Jul 2019 15:44

A theme which strikes a chord with me. I live on the 2nd floor (UK
definition) of a 19th century property and note constant to-ing and
fro-ing via my window frame by a line of tiny ants who occasionally
gather in numbers (especially around the base of my electric kettle
when the power is on - are they getting a buzz from it, I wonder?!).
I'm content to let them be, except when their numbers become
invasive in total. Then I take some aggressive action to deter their

If you wish to post a comment you must login.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more Hide this message