Liz Garton Scanlon (liz_scanlon) wrote,
Liz Garton Scanlon
liz_scanlon

National Poetry Month -- Haiku 9

My daughter got an ant farm for her birthday.
It's kind of a futuristic tank of blue gel that apparently provides the ants all they need
in terms of habitat, food and drink. It took us awhile to get around to ordering the ants so, even though her birthday was in February, my daughter just received them yesterday.

30 great big female Harvesters in a little vial in a mailing envelope. Raring to go.

The directions that come with the ant farm make it sound like no biggie to tip 'em into the tank.

Well.
Not so at our house.

Two promptly escaped.
I got one back in right away.
The other was a trickster.
Lots of quick fakes and unpredictable moves.

Both my girl and I were chasing it all over the dining room table and, in the process,
she
knocked
over
the entire
farm.

And the lid was not on tight.
And the ants took off.

My daughter cried.
The ants scattered.
I tried very hard not to swear.

Within ten minutes, most of them were back in their blue gel.
A few perished.
And my girl and I had both been stung.

Which really, really hurts.

Because, it turns out:

"Some reports indicate that harvester ant venom is the most toxic of all insect venoms to mammals."

And:

"The harvester's painful sting has been ranked in scientific publications as worse than all but a few North American insects."
 

Sheesh!

We were each stung on the hand but it hurt all the way up our arms.
I was just waiting for breathing constriction or hives.
Not a very pleasant way to get acquainted with our new friends.

My husband wonders if we should try black mambas next.
Or maybe piranhas.

But, trauma aside, there were the ants, safe in their tank as we went to bed last night, our lymph nodes still thrumming.
And this morning, they had already tunneled way down.
Built a hill.
Settled in.

I found it kind of amazing, in spite of myself.



Haiku 9


ant-sized mandibles
clear tunnels and carry bricks;
I just sit and watch


-- Liz Garton Scanlon
    4/09/2009


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