Bio Note: I live in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. My passions include monzogranite boulders, bobcats, and birds, all of which surround my home in abundance and make their way into my poetry. Along with writing about the desert, I am currently obsessed with memoir. I have published nine books.
One Less Ant
The day Jane Hirshfield’s poem went viral— the one where she saves the life of an ant— I saw a lone ant run straight down the wall and got a tissue and squashed it. At our house, we save spiders, beetles, crickets, and every other bug that strays inside, catching them in cups and shaking them out the door— but not ants. Ants mount invasions, always after whatever it is we have, sending scouts in advance of battalions— we’ve seen them swarm across the floor, turn into a ball, rolling crumbs to a crack in the wall. We’ve talked to them, begging, please don’t come in, stay outside and live— but they come anyway, full of manifest destiny, a little America on steroids. Still, after Jane Hirshfield, I feel unholy. If it matters, when I kill an ant, I say I’m sorry— I love the earth so much it hurts.
Mourning the Doves
I hear them less and less. Their racket used to arrive at dawn, follow me from room to room—now I fill water dishes and wait for their descent—the flutter, the chase, the parables— but there are no five-note calls, and the doves who do come are smaller, darker—they arrive at sunset and roost in silence. Do they even know the refrain that drove me crazy, that I finally came to love, that used to remind me what I have to do?
She’d have sold her soul for a normal first name—but somehow she survived the childhood taunts, grew tall and gangly, all bones and angles, with an alto drawl sweet as sorghum. There was no other mother like her in Simsbury, Connecticut in the 60s— boisterous, hilarious, not a Puritan bone in her body. Uncomplaining, she bore the horrors of blizzards and ice thrust upon her by her husband’s job transfer—she became our Girl Scout leader, kept us in stitches at monthly meetings in the library. She came running the day I cried among the stacks, passed over for a part in the class play—her big, warm Southern hug saved me. So did her fried chicken, which I had often, since her daughter was my best friend. Crowded at the kitchen table, her four kids toed an invisible line, addressing their parents as Ma’am and Sir while Precious served up crispy drumsticks, okra, and grits that never quit— her parable of loaves and fishes.
©2020 Cynthia Anderson
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to tell him or her. You might say what it is about the poem that moves you. Writing to the author is the beginning of community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -JL