Fire Ants

Fatma Omar Wins a 2024 Zócalo Poetry Prize Honorable Mention Award

Fatma Omar (above) wins a 2024 Zócalo Poetry Prize honorable mention award for "Fire Ants." Courtesy of Fatma Omar.

Every year, we award the annual Zócalo Poetry Prize to the poem that best evokes a connection to place. Zócalo is pleased to recognize four honorable mention submissions for 2024.


The turmeric colored wall suffers
Sand streaks from a harsh wind
That whipped minuscule pebbles
At little red ants crawling on its side.

One bright one with a bulb on its
Back inched towards my arm.
The bite shot a stinging heat
Up my arm. Inside, grandma

Smiled knowingly at my pain
Stricken face. A sugar salve and cool
Towel eased the pain. I looked
For ointment, but she laughed.

This is Sudan, we use what we have.
Sensing a long story, I pulled

A chair onto the sand-ridden yard.
Strangely, the bite had numbed

To a memory. Kids swim in dirty streams
And survive malaria all the time. She stared – can you?
But she went back to peeling onions,
Scattering skin the ants would soon devour.

Fatma Omar was born in Khartoum, Sudan and moved to Brooklyn in 2002 with her parents. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in English and currently works in New Jersey.
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