Ants

We come home that Friday night after having
pizza at the mall; we’re laughing about one

thing or another, lifting leftover slices
from out of the oily box to wrap in foil

when one of us notices ants everywhere— in single
file around the sink, the edge of the dish rack,

climbing across the green plastic chopping
board: which is strange because there isn’t any

food left out, no sticky piles of dishes, no jar
of sauce or sugar accidentally uncapped. In a flash

I rummage under the sink for the can of Natural
Roach and Ant Killer made of herb extracts

and cinnamon oil; and start spraying the window frame,
the tile behind the faucet, the sides of the toaster.

Meanwhile, you want to carry everything in and around
the sink to the dining table then wash each item

in hot water. We don’t realize we’re bickering
until our youngest child starts crying, saying Stop!

I hate it when you’re fighting! before rushing away
to her room. We look at each other and put down

what we’re holding, then each in turn goes to offer
comfort, to reassure her we’re not angry, we don’t

hate each other, we’re not about to break up;
it’s only because of the ants. How do I know that,

she says in between sobs— I never could tell,
I was just a small child growing up
. I know the years

she’s referring to: when only one of us was working,
when there were lawyers’ immigration fees to pay,

school and car payments and finally a chapter 13
bankruptcy. We did rage a lot at each other then;

and cry, or threaten to throw in the towel. Also, swallow
our pride. What a miserable time. We may be out of the woods,

but not without this consequence: she’s still at the mercy
of those triggers. After, when she’s asleep, we wipe down

the kitchen counters. Only a few ants are visible—
no longer stepping after each other in a straight line

but meandering around the soap dispenser, which means
whatever reinforced the pheromone trail has dissipated.

Leave a Reply