Journal of Writing & Environment

“Wasp Nest”


I hear them in my dreams;

their wings beat at a frequency of C,

and out of spittle, wood, and song,

they make a cathedral of paper mache.

It grows each hour, a gothic fruit

below the sweet birch

while they writhe in a fever of toil,

laying comb upon comb,

feeding their larvae, fine-tuning their hive,

sounding their paean to female industry

through the streets. When I approach—

no, intrude—it is not pain that I crave,

but something close to it: her,

the queen of meticulous care

and fierce motherhood, whose madness

is formalized and made into a fortress.

I would be a pincushion to her stinger,

but instead she clutches me

as in a Klimt. Six little claws,

six little legs. Pillars of wasps rise

and fall away like gates when she comes.

And when she coaxes me through,

I will become her initiate,

just as someday a hive of sleepers

will pupate and rise from their combs,

such formal cells, to form a new brood.

There is venom here—

I cannot forget it, but nothing reckless.

There is pattern and her vision,

and life, a future, in every nurtured crevice.