They ask and I say no because I figure they are unlikely to accept my answer anyway but they insist on an answer so I say fine, I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you that when I grow very old I would like to become a glass of water. No no you must continue to be human. See, I told you I didn’t want to answer. No, please. You must continue to be human. But why. Because you are one now. All the more in my old age I would like to be a glass of water, I’d make such a nice glass of water, don’t you think? So useful, so desired. No no you cannot be a glass of water. Fine then I’ll be an ant. No you cannot be an ant. For the same reasons, I imagine. Yes. Please. Do continue to be human. But why won’t you even give me a chance. In fact, screw that—I’ll be an ant, and that ant will be a glass of water. I do not understand what you mean. Here’s what you can do with my old age. Swirl it first, to release the aroma. I am a well-tempered ant, a nicely adjusted glass of water. Breathe it in, my molecules of ant scent. Tip it to the left, to the right, watch the contents swish to the head, to the tail, and back again to the head. Contemplate my black translucency, the sleek curve of exoskeleton that fits nicely in your hand, and imagine how nourishing, this universal elixir of ant. Daily, every day, forever, moreover. I am delighted to age so beautifully into this ant, this glass of water. I am grateful. I am joyful. I am overflowing with vigorous survival. Thank you, ant. Thank you, water. Our relationship is both banal and extraordinary. I am an ant. I am a glass of water. Plus ça change. Same as it ever was. The question is no longer to drink or not to drink. The wind outside is punishing, and yet look at you now, holding me so tenderly. I knew it would be easier than you could ever know, to age so nicely into this ant that is a glass of water. It is what it is, as they say into their covered mouths.
“Ant as a glass of water” from MONKEY New Writing from Japan (Vol. 4, 2023). Reprinted with the permission of the author. All rights reserved.