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Symbiotic

June 25, 2007

The ants crawl around the buds as the petals press hard against their green skins. Eager for release, to let their thin layers explode into the June air. Looking towards the sun, their blossoms tilted up even as they lay against the brick walk way, brought down by the rain and the weight of their petals. Each so delicate, so soft, yet together heavy with beauty. The ants help in the process, pick away at the outer shell, enabling, allowing, the pressure relieved. They have a symbiotic relationship. The ants help the peonies bloom, the peonies give the ants a livelihood, a meal, a purpose. When you bring them inside, the ants follow. “There are ants all over the counter now.” I observe as my Mom comes in to admire the arrangement. “Yeah, I find they don’t last long in the house.” They’re not house ants, they’re peony ants.
As I drive back to New York, one climbs onto my hand. The peony buds I’ve taken have carried him in. I flick him off and watch as he climbs along the dashboard. Lost. I want him to find the peonies I’ve brought. He won’t.
I open the window, hoping he’ll find his way outside. I’m driving fast, but maybe he’d survive the wind. He approaches the open window and gets low against the sill. I watch as he lifts just his head up, his antenna expanded, weighing his options, taking in the change in scenery. He lays for a while, letting the wind speed over him, figuring out his next move, the peonies a distant memory. Now, all he knows is getting back to the green he sees outside. I let him sit like that, wanting him to find his own way, not wanting to intrude too much, feeling guilty that it may indeed kill him. I don’t dislike this ant, because he’s a peony ant, he’s part of the beauty of the flowers. He makes his way closer. I give him a little shove, finally. I need to put the window up, my ears are popping from the pressure. He sneaks into the space between the lowered window and the door, and then begins to climb back out and that’s when the air takes him. I see him cling for a moment to the rearview mirror and then he’s gone. I roll the window up and look at the peony buds in their vase next to me, they’re starting to bloom.

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