'I must have brought their home inside for fuel, heating my small house'
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.
ARE WE STILL HERE?
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.