Black Ants

I believe them because their souls are figure eights.
I believe them when they say the cornfield is sewn
with vertigo. When I stare down the rows, I believe

the sky behind me makes promises
it outgrows. I believe it hurts to be shot.
I believe a gun aimed at the setting sun marks a scythe

in its blinding center. I believe that my father was once
a sharp thorn, and the snake he blew apart,
I believe its venom thickened inside a thin arm.

I believe that my father’s boyhood, snake-bitten friend
would have been a bad man had he survived.
I believe the story went, before he got bit,

Nick took a rock to a dog’s head. I believed
my father, lucid and speaking gothic….
Nick was the kind of kid who hurt kittens and other kids.

I wanted to believe my father was never really
his friend, but my father reminded me
they grew up in the middle of nothing. Sometimes bearing it

is enough. And who is my father now that he no longer
remembers landscape. Or that he ever even told me
this story. I believe somewhere between the dead snake

and his dead friend, my father stands,
his back against the sun. I believe my father waits there
to tell me again what he’s done, and the ants,

I believe their bodies lined up make bright rivers.
I’ve thrown a red apple against a house,
watched the juice-streaked window that I believed

was my kingdom pixelate black. The cracked glass
speaks back to me still: did you ever as a child watch a house
burn down? Did you ever as a child believe the boy

who lit the match, the boy who ran, the boy who told you
to run towards the rivulet’s end?