I write about ants because
of how they found me:
Half-naked on a stained mattress.
A sari falling around my body in waves of dark green.
Fabric against blood-colored sheets.
I heat turmeric paste on a little spoon,
and dab the hot yellow substance
over blisters that are scattered across my arm in a sort of quiet
against South Indian heat.
Papaya trees like tall spies with messy green hair
stare in through the window.
I lay back.
Fall asleep by the light of a candle slowly
Wiping sweat in my slumber.
Not noticing the tiny procession
of ants, crawling in from the doorway.
A wavy line across the black tile floor.
I am blind as well as deaf and sleep on.
The ants find my limp arm across their territory on the floor
and rejoice as they climb my mountain of skin,
smelling the puss leaking from my yellow crusted spots
and excitedly dive into its moisture,
licking eating drowning
in the succulent excrement of my wounds.
*When I was 25, I spent 6 months in South India working with my dear friend Ann of Auroville’s Animal Care for the third time since the age of 19. This trip however, was one filled with grief and desperation. Ann was in the process of dying from colon cancer in a nearby hospital while I looked after some of the village dogs. South India in June is often over 100 degrees. I broke out in blisters and woke up more than once to what happened in this poem. It’s always been a special poem to me, and since no journal has published it yet, I like the idea of it existing here.