after Natasha Trethewey
The yellow jackets have returned. Each morning since May
I’ve awakened to their black and neon limbs building a nest.
Stung by childhood memory, I set out to sabotage their attempts:
use sticks, hoses, poisonous sprays but my drugstore weapons
are not enough to keep them from hovering above my awning at dawn.
My landlord intervenes, says they have never been this persistent,
insists my sweetness draws them here this season. I shake my head,
knowing the wasps and I are a kind of honeyless colony.
The oaks and palms grip Pasadena sidewalks, sluggish with the last
of summer when all traces of the muddy dens disappear.
Their departure reminds me of my own parents, who spent a decade
trying to make a family. How nothing stuck: the glassy condos
that confettied the Pacific coastline, the Spanish duplexes in Los Angeles.
Seattle, San Diego, Tucson, Tempe, Burlingame. The Spokane bungalow
reduced to ash and snow. I picture the wasps sweeping sunrise in cursive,
they treaded air for weeks determined to shelter their young.
My parents’ failures took years. But they gave up and vanished too,
leaving me to search for papery wings scattered in the Santa Ana
winds, which simmer like an oven cradling dinner, finally call me home.
Read more from Issue No. 16 or share on Facebook and Twitter.