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)