The Ant Colonies on Mount Corinth

by David W. Landrum

for Scott Carrol

We climbed up past the ant’s nests, here before
the time the Doric Greeks came from the sea
and settled in the peaks above the bay.
A million generations lived and died
in these dark chambers—queens laid eggs, their lives
an endless labor, and billions of drones
did sexless tasks and males enjoyed their brief
existences with wings and ecstasy
ten-thousand years.  Here in the acrid ground
below our feet, monotonous history formed:
sameness and reciprocity of rank
embedded in gene-strands, biology,
in instinct’s lore—and the colonies go on,
cycles with countless insect lives preserved,
no more than atoms in continuance,
in the universal swirl, in the blind dark:
the pincered workers, larvae-wall of white
ripening in the dark to drop and walk
toward sunlight, tough black exoskeleton
well-formed to suit the outward, brightened world. 
All the vibrations of an eon’s pause,
the silent traces of the centuries
line worn scent-paths that lead into the dark,
the matrix, powerful with age on age,
with life piled up on life, scored in soil
where nothing can disturb its ebb and growth,
there in the making dark, the eternal quiet,
down in the nests of rhythmed certainty.