cover image The Ants

The Ants

Sawako Nakayasu. Les Figues (SPD, dist.), $17 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-934254-54-7

The lives and times of ants take center stage in vignettes from Nakayasu (Texture Notes) as she highlights the human qualities of these working-class bugs. Nakayasu’s ants lead a detailed and at times volatile life, ranging from feats of athletic strength to political changes for self-governance. Ants are found living in a frozen colony, inside carrot cakes, and posing for Tokyo art students; some are burrowed deeply within dental cavities, while others float “peacefully along in a leaf-boat they believe is bound for eternal glory or sweetness.” Nakayasu is able to evoke moments of both tenderness and morbid curiosity, and she actively participates in these prose poems, inserting herself into the lives and destinies of the ants, especially when her body is involved: “At some point in the day, time will run out, or an ant will fall off, and it could very well possibly be that as close as they ever got to each other was my torso.” Nakayasu’s ants, “clutching one another out of desperation or in search of comfort, slide back down to the wretched earth from which they try to escape once more,” and in doing so illustrate her ability to draw empathy for some of the world’s most fragile creatures: humans. (July)