Leaning against a tree in the shade
cool leathery leaves grant
relief from a blurring white jungle sun
A modern tourist building squats over there
    coke machine, postcards and chess boards–
What's this line of green lozenges
parades down the bark
past my face?

Leafcutter ants
    (genus Atta )
a cordon of millions
all of 'em women
cutting half-inch square leaf chips over my head
Hold them upright like sails
hurry home to a fungus garden
sunk in a nest underground

Daughter workers
construct a socialist dream
slick trail leak'd from tip of the abdomen
tells the route home
Tropical farm girls, government girls,
architect girls–
an Empire of girls! Find them in Popol Vuh
cutting up leaf
    since the Eocene

& harvest as much in a
day as a cow.

Andrew Schelling | Ocosingo
Contents | Mudlark No. 9