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We are Ants in the Hands of God

A Poem by Klara McMenamin

I used to pick up ants.

I greatly loved and admired them.

Tiny creatures. Existing in a complex society. 

Marching under the orders of their queen.

Working to sustain themselves and each other.

Their civilization is their colony.


I wanted to cradle them in my hands,

And let them feel the warmth of my touch,

But the ants are too small to comprehend my meaning,

My soft intentions are read as a threat.


A tiny application of too much pressure could kill or maim one,

Trying to improve their home could spell destruction.


Apathy is kinder in eldritch horror;

I must love ants from afar.

A Statement by Klara McMenamin on her process


An ant I drew, and God’s hand traced from Michelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam.’

Inspiration for this poem came from memories from my childhood as I have always been fascinated by bugs. 


As a child I remember spending my breaktimes playing in the willow garden on my school playground, where I would make bug houses. I was fascinated by the bugs, and I liked to pick them up and interact with them. Eventually, I stopped since I learned that the oils in my hands can hurt slugs and worms, and butterflies’ wings are too delicate for me to handle. One other inspiration for this poem is that a lot of people are afraid of insects, while I am not. I thought that the instinctual fear of insects to many people, coupled with my childhood interest in them, as well as the religious backdrop would lend itself to a good soft-eldritch horror poem. 


Defamiliarisation was a really interesting device to use when writing this poem. Concepts are much easier to comprehend when they are drawn into imagery, which is why poetry is such an undistilled form of expression. The eldritch horror of this poem goes both ways, since there is a simultaneous understanding from the reader of both perspectives. The ants are too small to understand the intentions of the human and the human is too big to see the perspective of the ants.

Back to BoundBy: Spring '24 (Edition #08)

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