As the Challenger blew up—
the big white plumes
charging from the orange glow
over the sky, so blue that morn,
I thought of the ants.

What wonderful feats these
tiny critters performed,
working together.
Tunneling cities— more expansive
than any we humans could build.
And I thought of how I’d squished
so many ants, while the others
went on— taking up the load
of their fallen brothers.
The ants didn’t care I was there,
pushing my thumb on them.
They just went on, the ants—
carrying away my crumbs.
The sentimentality of ants,
or lack thereof. Surely,
this is what is responsible
for their continued survival—
in spite of an industry dedicated
to their poison and destruction.

And then, looking up at the Zenith—
the fallen rockets, the sobbing crowds.
My mother swearing up and down
that her sons will never be astronauts.
And my father exclaiming,
“there goes the space program.”
I thought of the ants again—
and how they really had one on us,
that day. Surely, we’d have
colonized the Moon and Mars
long ago, if only we shared
the sentimentality of ants.

written on 03/02/2011 by: Matt Kane