My mother’s vials are small, very neat. The ants
glimmer, a mineral shine, each leg intact and so petite
that they appear fabricated: miniatures rinsed

in black ink. At the university she is a student
forever in need of a photocopier. Her charges return
to a metal cabinet with a tidy clink. We enter

a room where computers sleep, green-hued in rows
of fevered hardware. Silence but for the grand cases
that hum and broil in the heat of memory.

I spend the hour rotating on swivel chairs, rolling
tethered mice across soft tar. Patience is its own reward:
sit still long enough and one-by-one the screens explode

into millions of stars hurtling like weightless bodies
on water. Edge-less, infinite. A galaxy of luminescent ants
no longer point-mounted on pins but surging out

on vast tides. I sit transfixed by the display, unable to move
or avert my gaze until a larger sun enters my orbit—
my mother with her printed stack, calling me away.

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