I was inspired by Leah’s ear infection
because why wouldn’t I be?
She texted me in the middle of the day
to tell me she was lying on her side
at the free medical center
with stool softener in her ear.
Of course it was my fault
for having invited her to the Russian
bathhouse in the first place
where bacteria make mincemeat
of our mealy substrates
and we sit there welcoming them in
like they’re Mormon missionaries.
In other aspects of our lives,
we were learning how to see ourselves
as ants, the way God saw us
from wherever He stood.
Sometimes we were alone,
moving our day’s crumb from one station
to another. Other times we were
with other ants, nestled in a heap,
or else, going round after round
of argument, unable to forgive
one another for the state in which
we had inherited the hill.
I had learned from her
the fine art of lying on the floor,
which was enabling me to redefine
my relationship to the universe,
to focus instead on my
insignificance and to relinquish
all my vanities. If an ant passed
itself in a window, would it stare?
Would it be at all interested in itself ?
Perhaps it would look at
the crumb on its back and think,
“Not heavy not heavy not
heavy heavy heavy.”
In this way, it was not unlike
a beatboxing man I had witnessed
strutting down the street
mumbling to himself:
“studio studio audio studio
audio audio audio.”
I decided I was going to
find Leah just such a man one day—
an ant in the shape of a man
to stand in as her “audiostudio,”
to be her other good ear.