Poetry Fiction 2009

Fire Ants

Squatting in the coppery mud of the drainage ditch
behind my cousin’s house, we searched for fish,
saw none. We found a speckled frog instead,
unspooling a long, gelatinous thread
of black eggs in the water. Then fire ants—
my feet a blaze of pain, a fumbling dance,
and fact and memory begin to stutter.
What happened next? What curses did I utter?
And how did I ever get back over the fence?

I remember having a kind of reverence
for the whole affair: the pity I got, each bite
growing large and lustrous as a pearl, my tight
and swollen toes. I must have liked the pain.
What else would make me prod again, again?
A whole week hobbling barefoot on the lawn,
and still I missed the welts when they were gone.

Chelsea Rathburn’s first collection of poems, The Shifting Line, received the Richard Wilbur Award in 2005. She lives in Decatur, Georgia.
Presented by

The Blacksmith: A Short Film About Art Forged From Metal

"I'm exploiting the maximum of what you can ask a piece of metal to do."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

Video

The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

How a Brooklyn tattoo artist popularized the "cattoo"

More in Entertainment

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In