Lengthy Poem Contest

Reflections of an Ant-stronaut

by JL Maikaho

An ant came to my lamp 
as I sat on the floor reading a book 
light from the lamp shining through
the space around me. 
Elsewhere was dark 
who knows how many miles 
she might have voyaged for
centuries or more 
relentlessly searching for light 
and found it eventually 
at the feet of my lamp.
Who knows 
like Philip ‘Pirrip’ Pip 
she too had great expectations 
finally finding it at this beacon 
in her dark world.

A rational fear seized me 
I despised the sting of ants 
but I could not raise my mighty hand 
to crush this ant. 
Slowly, I picked up my pen 
and pushed the ant away 
but before I could look away 
she was back again. 
Yet again I pushed her away 
yet again she found her way 
by Joves! I exclaimed.

Taking my lamp to a faraway edge 
I placed my book on the floor to read 
an ant again arrived 
was it the same or another 
I could not tell 
she was brown with six legs too. 
This time curiosity obliged me 
to let the ant reach out for the light 
to share with her my lamp.

I stared at her intensely 
as she climbed the light lamb 
it was smooth and fluorescent 
and she fell for lack of friction 
she stood up immediately 
as if to say ‘I refuse to fail’.

She made another attempt 
four front legs holding the amp 
two hind legs supporting her weight 
she raised her geoid head 
looking up at the lamp 
at that moment it seemed
her head would come off 
and I’d have a pool of blood
on my hands.

it wandered around her neck slovenly 
rising as if to see beyond. 
she thought it was a pillar of light 
that reached into the sky 
she thought my ceiling was the sky 
I laughed at her thoughts 
how silly they were 
but I managed to slide my huge feet 
into her tiny shoes 
and her thoughts became logical.

I imagined this brilliant ant 
setting up a laboratory 
postulating hypotheses 
wearing goggles 
holding test tubes 
she was perhaps an astronaut 
glad she’d made it to the sun 
or an astral traveller 
on her way to another planet 
and magnanimously 
I offered to help.

I took this ant 
and placed her in my bathtub 
holding my lamp just above her 
this was planet Bathubia 
Closest to the sun 
evidence of life 
cold and slippery.

Next was my work table 
books scattered all over 
squeezed and torn papers 
pencils brushes crayons 
inscriptions symbols 
words and gibberish 
this was planet Readtablium 
home of the gods of knowledge 
of learning, language and art.

My kitchen was next  
huge pillars and boards 
heat and flames 
gadgets of all kinds 
it must have looked incredibly dangerous 
and otherworldly 
saucepans cups spoons knives 
this was planet kitchenus 
the word itself sounded dangerous 
it’s the forgery of the warrior gods.

A plastic bowl filled with ice cubes was next 
I lowered my lamp and allowed the light 
to be obstructed by the bowl 
now this bowl was blue 
and happened to be transluscent 
so inside the bowl were beams of bluish light 
this planet was cold and light was insufficient 
’twas farthest from the sun
and Farblue was just the perfect name.

It felt great 
knowing my lamp was a mighty sun to someone 
I was… wait.. a goddess! 
I screamed 
and suddenly 
I actually believed I was. 

A thought struck my mind.

What if I blocked the lamp 
would she call it an eclipse? 
what if I crushed her head 
would there be a funeral? 
what if I took the lamp away 
would that mean the end of the world 
for her and her kind?

What if I raised her high 
helped her climb the lamb 
would I be the helper angel 
an answered prayer? 
would I be some god 
with so much power 
over her? 

Another thought struck me.

What if another god 
was reading with the sun his lamp 
all my books 
a paragraph
in one of his 
laughing at my silly, logical thoughts? 
Occasionally he could block the sun 
and I’d call it an eclipse 
he could crush my head 
and then there’d be a funeral 
he could raise me high 
then I’d call him my helper.

I closed my book 
switched off my lamp 
and went to bed. 

Yet another thought jerked me up!

When the god 
laughing at my silly logical thoughts 
closes the last page of his book 
he’d switch off his lamp 
and go to bed 
and that could be 
for me and for my kind 
the end of the world.

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