Never an ant

Eighteen years ago I moved to Stockholm. Though, I was a tree uprooted from the forest of my youth, at first it felt familiar from vacations and business trips, I knew the sights, I felt at home, but the first two weeks before we got the keys to the house we had bought I drifted between friends and relatives, sleeping on couches and unfamiliar guestrooms.

I had joined a startup and days were busy with new colleagues in the process of forming a company. I commuted on the subway, and every morning I was one among the many who filled the tunnels deep below streets. When transferring between the subway lines I joined the thousands who just like me were ants among the ants blindly following the paths through the anthill of the city. We all kept to the right when walking slowly, we held onto the same escalator railings. I was one but had not learnt to shut myself inside, pretending that there was a choice to leave and travel by myself.

After two weeks we moved into our house and I could bicycle again. Since then I have grown roots and sometimes I even take the subway, but I will never be an ant.

in the setting sun
black shadows on the rooftop
a building of rooks

Today Randall (qbit) hosts Haibun Monday at dVerse. The challenge is to write from the perspective of one in a collective, and I could not imagine something more so than having to move through the subway network of a city.
—-
October 1, 2018

25 responses to “Never an ant

  1. Well I am a working ant, riding that subway everyday so I can relate to the blind following. Hopefully on weekends, and after work, I can take off my ant mask and ride freely in my writing. Love the backstory Bjorn. Happy Monday!

  2. Another commute poem – so different from Grace’s – both so original. I would hate to have to commute again. I will have to take the tube when I go down to visit my daughter in November and December, and I’m not looking forward to it. You write of being a tree uprooted from the forest of your youth’, I feel like a tree uprooted from the flatlands of my old age.No more colleagues and no more rushing around like ants!

  3. I do envy you your cycling commutes–but how does it work? Don’t you get sweaty? Do you shower at work? Do you wear a suit and tie while on the bike? You nailed it with your declaration of non-ant status.

  4. I very much like the in the end your rejection of the sense of forced community and activity. You proclaim your individuality, and that is precious to you. And then in the Haiku the birds, most free of all above ground.

  5. Love the haiku and this:

    “I drifted between friends and relatives, sleeping on couches and unfamiliar guestrooms.”

  6. You may not want to be an ant, but you are part of a very large ant hill! I enjoyed your story. A very good analogy. I gather you would rather be a bird??

  7. kaykuala

    Since then I have grown roots and sometimes
    I even take the subway, but I will never be an ant.

    There will come a time when one takes a step forward to clear away from the rest of the crowd. A brave decision comes at a time when things have then fallen into place.

    Hank

  8. Wonderful write Bjorn. And you are truly one of a kind. I’ve never lived somewhere that had an efficient transportation system, but I did get to experience the Paris metro while on vacation. And before I left my job, I traveled a lot by plane for work, which was brutal.

  9. It was interesting reading your backstory. The only time I commuted regularly was when I was an intern during grad school–so I never was really an ant. I love the haiku.
    That ant art installation is both cool and creepy.

  10. Pingback: Journeys – Tuesday Poetics | dVerse·

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