Paper Wasps

by Kate Finegan

Take a fence and bite it. When your teeth sink in,
scrape wood fibers (a healthy chunk) into your mouth,
hold them against your tongue and suck
as if on mints until soft, so soft (like ladies’ wrists).

This is what the female does before she spits
that pulp onto a surface (the closer to your open door,
the better). Brush your hair one hundred strokes
a day. That wasp (the female) bites and softens and spits,
bites and softens and spits, like I’ve seen
mothers do for babies. She and her helper (also female)
they build, the two of them. Charleston
is hot and teeming, like cherry juice
on sticky fingers, ice cream melting onto wrists (of children)—
so much life on this piazza, winged
cockroach, slinking lizard, sun-tired, and
that paper nest grows larger.

Her teeth (yes, though small) are strong (how strong).
Take a fence and bite it.

— from Juniper Volume 2, Issue 2