Ant

Ant crawls down the willow tree. Ant makes her way down down down. She is wingless, a scout, a warrior for her queen, infertile. Just thinking this garners sympathy from Antt who is now beside her, waving an antenna, providing support. Antt is misreading her and is overly sympathetic, but Ant doesn’t mind her company. They march two by two down the tendrils of the drooping tree. They hum the human song. They greatly dislike the human song. But they do enjoy the drumming. They tap their tarsal claws against the leaves and hold their funiculus low to soak in the beat.

Ant stops to itch her scutellum. Antt stops when Ant stops. Anttt and Antttt crawl up beside the stopped pair. Were you humming the song? Anttt asks Antt.

We were humming the song, they admit.

We picked up your rhythm, transmits Antttt to Ant and Antt, We were on branch 342.

Good catkins on 342, transmits Antt to the Antt+s.

Great catkins, Anttt and Antttt respond.

Without a word between them they all continue down the willow tree, four by four. They hum the song. They beat their tarsal claws against dewey branches and flowers and leaves. They transmit their feelings to one another silently, without a buzz, as a unit, the familiar words of their daily paths: lift, and pull, and together, and tuck, and freeze. They’ve hidden under a sneaker tread, have felt their hard encasings squished flat and reshaped. They’ve lifted the large crumbs as gifts and pulled the loose dirt up from the pile to form another path to their queen.

Through a clearing in the branches they all spot it, located behind the sleeping pair of humans. Basket, they universally transmit. And then, they see the dark brown pools in the white cups. Coffee. And lastly, Sugar, the pure stuff, in cubes. Other Ants join them, filed in rows. They are eight. They are sixteen. They are a drip, then a creek, then a river flowing towards the earth, the willow's drooping tentacles brushing the fertile ground beneath them. The colony lifts cube after cube in their mandibles, collecting as a group a large bounty for their queen.

After the haul, on the long walk back the four Ants find themselves again near one another, among the massive colony, past the hefty roots of the willow, up so many branches, they lift and carry.

Infertile, Ant thinks again, and the thought is there for the others to share, vibrating through the sugar cube.

It is your way, transmits Antt.

It is our way, transmits Anttt.

It is the only way there can ever be, adds Antttt.

Again Ant wishes only to seek cover from the kindnesses, wishes to dig herself into a hole of her own.

But there is not such a hole, interrupts Antt.

And there is not another way, interjects Anttt.

There is us, transmits Antttt.

There is only all of us.

We have all felt this.

We have all felt this.

We have all felt this.

We have all felt this. The message turns in her mind, and thus in the others’ minds, and again in her own. It is a maddening cycle, like the words of the human song. And yet she is calmed by its repetition, the words become the rhythm that they click their soundless tarsal claws to en route to deliver gifts to their queen.

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