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The Ant

All alone, the stone-rolling ant
and her stone, like a couple
in a comic dance, moving
over the cracked, parched earth –
heroic struggle wedded
to the dead weight of chance;

as if she hasn't seen it yet,
that she might plumb for crumb or scrap,
a feast fit for a queen, and not
this plaything she must soon now leave behind
as the others, ever close, show up
and, awakened by their presence, she falls back
from it, her dark obsession, lets go
of whatever muddled signal she’s been feeling
her way along, and returned to common purpose –
the one surrendering to the many's will –
commits herself to take what her kind should,
not stone or wood, but food, (evening
closing, night already clearly on its way),
leaving just not good enough alone.

Pat Boran was born in Portlaoise in the Irish midlands and has long since lived in Dublin where he is the Editor of the Dedalus Press. His New and Selected Poems appeared in 2005, while The Next Life (2012) is his latest collection. He has also published a best-selling prose memoir, The Invisible Prison (2009), and the popular writers’ handbook The Portable Creative Writing Workshop (reissued 2013).