The Ant, the Seed, the Watermelon in Me.
By Wayland Tracy
By Wayland Tracy
Saliva falls through my parted lips. It seeps into the earth. It finds a seed. Kisses it. My tongue is left dry and slowly swaying like a worm pulled
out of the dirt, right before it is pierced with a hook. An ant finds the hole in my chest and searches for my heart. Ants do not need air. He flows with the blood. Ants could live in the ocean but for the lack of crumbs.
I lived in a place where ants traveled through holes in the wall to get to the sink. I would turn on the faucet and throw water at them. They hid between dirty plates. They collected in the sink strainer like tea leaves.
The seed enveloped with spit opens its eyes. They are not like our eyes—they don’t really need to see. What it sees now will be forgotten like all thoughts—its whole life.
I learned when I was young that if you find a single lonesome ant in your home, that ant is a scout who will report back to the colony if the home is ripe for invasion. It is important to kill this ant before he gets back to the colony. I found them going along the windowsills of my parents’ house. I lit matches and blew them out and poked them with the ember. Several times I did this. In a whole life, cruelty like that is often forgotten or ignored.
The ant loses focus and swims for the watermelon growing in my stomach. It did not burst when I hit the ground. It’s ripe with vines spread into my limbs. The ant bites off a piece of the foliage. It is for his queen. She sleeps three feet below me. Finally, I take a breath.
Sometimes one would crawl down my arm to my hand when sitting on the couch. Run between my fingers and across my palm. I’d try to coax him off. Place fingers on leaves of a house plant. He had no way to know he was on my hand—some people believe the earth is flat. I could feel some connection with him, like watching a squirrel run into traffic. How much time do you spend watching an ant run between your fingers before you choose to forget it’s there? What separates the living from the living?
The seed is hugged by the pressure of my lungs pushing against the earth. It believes in itself and is ready to sprout and die. The queen wakes up from her long sleep of visions. The workers panic. Too many to consul. The ant battles my white blood cells, who only want what’s best for me. Good intentions. They intend to kill the ant or in some way punish him.
Ants get into bags of chips. Into bags of dried fruit. Under the caps of honey bottles. Any food touched is considered ruined. One of the reasons humans manufacture poison is to forget.
The wind rubs my back. The wind strokes my hair and takes my sweat before the earth can taste it. I mistake the wind for my mother and think it will be alright. My blood excites the noses of coyotes in a western valley. I take a pebble between my fingers and recall thirst and how to satiate it. The seed closes it eyes. The sprout that bursts through the seed doesn’t know where it comes from, believes it is the beginning. The sprout breaks earth and looks into my open mouth. The air is still. The sprout is confused and afraid. The white blood cells take two legs from the ant but cannot kill him. They take his piece of foliage. The ant turns around to get another. The ant forgets my heart and my heart cannot be heard from the inside. The sprout touches my tongue, hoping it is light. It makes me laugh. I laugh out blood. The sprout tries to drink this but finds the taste unpleasant. The ant finds the watermelon brown with rotted leaves, withering, dry. Now it remembers my heart. If I concentrate, I can remember what it feels like to lick honey off the finger of someone I really cared about. I cannot forget all the times I chose to make someone feel worse. The coyotes have no word for me. They’ve never heard of picnics under the sea. The sprout closes its eyes and grows forward past my teeth and down my throat.