"Immortality of Ants" is from Kate Lovelady's series of poems called "Bugs." Insect lore is full of rich metaphors for human relationships, Lovelady says. Her "bug" poems range from an image of the author as a water-strider, skating over the "membrane of memory," to a violent description of how a bee dies after stinging its enemy. Her work has been influenced by local poets Michelle Coppedge, Ellen Goldstein, and Elan Young, with whom she participated in a reading last year at Internationalist Books to promote their chapbook Eggs.
Lovelady grew up in New York City and moved to Carrboro in 1998. She is a part-time freelance editor, and has been accepted as a Leader-in-Training in the ethical culture movement. Contest judge Jane Mead says that "Immortality of Ants" is "an expertly paced and well-shaped poem that shows very subtle and sophisticated sense of lineation and rhythm--the central metaphor unfolds with grace and power."
Immortality of Ants
Sometimes, after I lose myself in a movie--
the mystery, the war, the affair--turning
back from that great distance to my
body in my seat I become
confused ... So many, so close, all
smelling of popcorn, dreamy, warm,
separated by the thinnest sheaths.
I need a sign, a trail like the one
an ant distinguishes among the thousands, threading
through the leaf litter to her hill.
Sometimes, after I lose myself in a movie,
I return to different flickering bodies--
I'm a sleepy man in a puffy coat ...
a kid squirming at the sex scene ...
a bored mom,
gotta pick up milk.
I snap into my self (the one
I had arrived in), snug and
empty, as if I had crumbled away
in the crowd; as if I had
lost all memory and now would begin
a new rich life in which I can see
like an ant, hoisting its crumb
along the mingling threads
that set the dark theater ablaze.