I am just an ant with two sensitive pens stuck to my head.
It takes me days to capture a fleck of meaning.
How often it dissolves in the rain!
At other times the doings of this life
come at me before dawn
and continue in their relentless way
until night, so that the words
remain in that secret warren of passages.
I am always storing crumbs against infinity.
On a good day, moving words from chamber to chamber,
the strict repetition of my task calms me.
I may have done nothing today, it is true,
but listen to the schoolchildren scream with happiness
when let out at recess across the street.
I can hear them from my open window.
But I am also down there under their feet,
recording their thrills of freedom when the doors
are flung wide, their final hoots
when the teacher claps her hands and cries out,
Inside now! Move those words back and forth across the page!
For me, moving words is recess, freedom, but as I am an ant
my pens quiver but you cannot hear my screams of joy.
Louise Erdrich is the author of many books, including Love Medicine, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, and The Round House. She owns a small bookstore in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Birchbark Books.