Natasha Trethewey


Today the ants are busy
            beside my front steps, weaving
in and out of the hill they’re building.
            I watch them emerge and—

like everything I’ve forgotten—disappear
            into the subterranean—a world
made by displacement. In the cemetery
            last June, I circled, lost—

weeds and grass grown up all around—
            the landscape blurred and waving.
At my mother’s grave, ants streamed in
            and out like arteries, a tiny hill, rising

above her untended plot. Bit by bit,
            red dirt piled up, spread
like a rash on the grass; I watched a long time
            the ants’ determined work,

how they brought up soil
            of which she will be part,
and piled it before me. Believe me when I say
            I’ve tried not to begrudge them

their industry, this reminder of what
            I haven’t done. Even now,
the mound is a blister on my heart,
            a red and humming swarm.