by Gagan Gill
The ants had lost their way home.
They walked, making lines between our sleep and our bodies.
Their invisible flour stays scattered in their memory, scattered
by some other place and time. They kept going from one end
of the earth to the other in search of it. They sank their teeth
in every living and dead thing. The sorrows of the earth grew
so light with their journeying that directions began to spin in
confusion. The poles began to change places. But nobody
knew the ants' sorrow.
Long ago, perhaps they were women.
The literal translation of this poem was made by Lucy Rosenstein
The final translated version of the poem is by Jane Duran
In India, it is believed that if you waste salt or flour, for instance by carelessly dropping it, in the next life you will have to lift it from the ground with your eyelashes: an emphasis on the value of every small thing in the big plan of the universe.
© Poetry Translation Centre 2004-2013