The thickened fury of their row still clung

in patches to the skirts of the house;

Scorch-smelling clumps that made it slump

and sag between spruce, clean-gabled neighbours.

The afternoon hummed with heat. Her head buzzed 

with the residue of frustrated tears:

The sting at the tail end of love.

Clustering clouds closed the blue-arcing window

to space, and under the pressure-cooker sky

the buzzing grew. It’s source no longer inside

her skull but pestering round the back door.

And helicoptering low to the leathered mouth 

of a cobwebby, season-weathered boot- 

her obscene abdomen a tiger-striped teardrop

dripping pheromones- the queen could be seen!

Primed by Nature’s alarm colour-scheme,

the yellow and black stung her out of ennui

into a warrior- like domesticity.

Too close to the house! We must get them out!

Wide-eyed guard to the door of their den,

she watched keen as a meerkat as he flung 

the shabby old shoe with its small, balled colony 

to the distant margins of the garden. 

For a time a few workers who missed the eviction 

searched confusedly the vicinity of home;

disorientated by disaster unwitnessed. 

Permanently adrift from the vanished.

They watched the display of displacement play out

In the curl-stomached silence of the culpable.

And the age-trodden boot lay for weeks in the weeds

With its papery clutch of tiny empty rooms.

~Polly Oliver (2017)

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3 thoughts on “Wasps’ Nest

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