Collar of wasps



I could have been a droning “caller of wasps” perhaps?
I just invented that job, I like the sound of it. — Neko Case

The frantic rush of the morning and all
its tasks got to be too much. I had
to send myself out to the rain. And because
the mud portends the spring I went in deep

up to my knees, wallowing, aboriginal
in the earth that bore me. I know my voice
is more raven rasp than songbird but
I’m not so out of tune as out

of place. My ancestors would have built
a shrine to the likes of me, brought offerings
of honeycomb, made me space to work
in smoke and poetry and dreaming.

But they might have sunk me in the river,
too, with a boulder lashed around my waist. Left
me to make an amulet of blood
and bone, my own blue eye for a nazar.

So I’ll live here, in the water, in the snow-
fed chill, my patience a whittling knife slowly
carving down a mountain. My hair
uncombed, my ankles uncrossed,

my handbag full of subversions. A pen,
a needle, a still-smoking lightening bolt. Try
to tame me with a corset, a marriage,
the yoke of my unrepentant womb. Even

if I speak softly, it is to curse anyone
who dams my freedom or clips my wings. Tie
around my neck a collar of wasps, saying, “That
will keep her in place. A million angry stingers

aimed at the jugular.” Bring it
and I will wear it like a jeweled breastplate,
my vestments of battle, my voice still rising
from the primordial tremor and buzz.

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