Chasing Ants, c. 1975


She was late for work. Rushing toward a temperamental blue Chevy Vega. She likely smelled of peppermint and cigarettes and Chalimar. Her stomach empty, her mind a million miles an hour. The impossible sequence of an ordinary day: two children, no husband, a job, never enough time or money or food. Everything closing in. Stop. Wait. Where’s the boy? He was just here, two steps behind. Now he’s nowhere to be seen. Sweet Jesus. Snatched. There’s no other explanation, but how and who would do such a thing? Everything is undone. You race back, retrace your steps, you have to find him. You have to find him, so you do. He is not snatched. The world at large is plenty mean enough to do such a thing, but not this time. There he is: he’s left the path from your tiny terrace apartment to the street where your indifferent Vega waits. You love him; you could kill him. Step lightly in your heels, the ground tangled with tree roots and vines. Find him inching along, eyes to the ground, following some slow, invisible calling.


This world is a riot of wonders, open questions. One slow black speck trails off into the trees. Look close enough and this solitary creature is not alone. One in a line of ones. Each carrying some necessary cargo to some necessary and well-hidden place. Everything adds up. Parts, sums of parts, wholes that are parts of larger wholes. The story gets told again and again. I was just a small boy. I can remember none of it but the way of seeing and of getting lost in thought. That and the rich wet smell of those trees, the mulch that held the moisture that must have sustained their invisible roots. The story gets told again and again. So much it’s a shared memory. Implanted. A blurring of what happened and the unspoken truth about a divergence, about a boy and his mother and the habit they had of losing each other.

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