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.