Every Mourning

By Michael Kleber-Diggs

Morning: walking my neighborhood, I come upon a colony
of ants busy at work. I take care not to step on any and miss

them all, then encounter up a ways a fellow traveler greeting
the day. I am frightening her. No. She is afraid of me.

Is she an introvert? Is she a neighbor? Is she just in from the ’burbs,
from the country? Is she scared of the inner city? Am I the inner city?

Is she racist? Shouldn’t I be the wary one? Or is she a survivor
like me?
It can’t be what I’m wearing: khakis, a blue and white

checkered button-down shirt, and the nylon sandals I favor
because they’re comfortable, my feet can breathe in them.

Dear friends, I am the nicest man on earth.

And I want to shout, Morning! But just then a weaver or
carpenter, just then a pharaoh or fire or pavement, just

then a little black ant struggles by alone, alone. And
in that moment, I want us to give ourselves over

to industry, carry the weight of the day together, lighten
it. I want to be a part of a colony where I feel easy

walking around. Cool as the goddamn breeze. Where
I can breathe, build structures sturdier and grander

than this—but the woman crosses to the other side
of the street, and I do what I usually do: retreat into

myself as far as I can, then send out whatever’s left.


Michael Kleber-Diggs, "Every Mourning" from Worldly Things. Copyright © 2021 by Michael Kleber-Diggs. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Milkweed Editions, www.milkweed.org.