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Yellow Jacket

— Jason Harris

“Sitting together in the dark, waiting for something to happen.”
The meaning for the Inuit word: ‘Qarrtsiluni’

A yellow jacket sweating
on the blue-stained rim of the cup

             I drink from in late December
             is not normal. The last time

you touched my lips I still knew
nothing of my place here

             but I felt abundant, I felt
             big, I felt as big as an idea.

When the entire world opens
itself up to you like a new friend

             you walk through what it offers
             and find grace somewhere

on the ground of it like a penny
face up. It’s true, I have legs

             and I have calfs and I have feet
             that touch the ground. When I walk

—what a marvelous feeling.
At nineteen I learned not to make choices

             without thinking and without thinking.
             That warm December day, I looked up

to watch crows amass in skinny treetops.
They chattered amongst themselves

             like scientists confirming a new species
             had walked, naked, two by two,

into extinction. Which is quieter:
the first breath or the last?

             Through empty branches, sunlight
             spilled what was left of it

across the miraculous simplicity
we call Earth, until it found me

             and the yellow jacket discussing the night
             —underneath which we sat,

waiting for something to happen.


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