Wasp in the chaparral—come.
Like acid in a paper cut, enter my blood,
become my blood.
Come queen, come mother. Come fount of poison.
When I was 10, with older boys poor of aim and home,
I stoned a hornet’s nest.
The pain--pure, intense, brilliant.
Welts bloomed under skin like pilot lights.
A hive, clenched now in my gut, drives me
through the underbrush of dead palms.
Warrior wasp. Sweat bee. Bullet ant.
Nail in heel, walking on fire. My hunger
turned ritual; your colors evolved
to warn. Come—protect your young.
I won’t protect myself.
 Notes: Paraphrases or quotes from the Schmidt Sting Pain Index by Justin O. Schmidt are in italics. Lines 5 and 6 reference a passage in Schmidt’s The Sting of the Wild.
About the Author: Casey Clague writes poetry and creative nonfiction in the MFA program at the University of South Florida. They live in Tampa where they serve on the editorial board of Yellow Jacket Press. Previous work has appeared in Slipstream, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, and Vagabond City.