The man came home twitching to burn

something alive, saw the hill

of the crimson ants with acid jaws,

decanted the gas can like wine

into the hole in the hill:

scratch, catch, fwoomp of flame,

inaudible shrieks of the thousands,

fire lapping through closed passages,

everyone flash-fried, children popped

like corn. Only the burrows went on beyond

the mound, twenty feet, thirty,

clear to the dusty drought-stubble of scrub

bracing the shotgun house. Whoosh

and hiss, blazing tongues racing from earth

to sky, yard flashing heavenwards,

man running for water,

flogging dirt with a rake: face

to face with one of those truths

of the hollow earth riven through

with tunnels and mines, everything

connecting everything else. Under

the membrane we call

this world, this world

is the world of the ant, set here

on six feet long before we came,

standing steady on her ash-black hill,

prepared to endure long

after the man goes, long after the fire.