By Jilliam Mattern

I found it comforting to learn

that paper wasps can pick out one

another by their faces.

You who scream at bees and squish

wasps paper-flat between the window

and some disregarded magazine

must squirm to think those, your littlest

victims, share with us some semblance

of the self.


But I was comforted to know

that, when the adversaries in

that accidental tragedy you

had out with the mower all

returned in disarray to mourn

the ruins of their nest, strewn out

among the sweet-cut grass, and then

commenced their many-winged diaspora,

they had the strength of company.


Perhaps the wasp who stung you twice

in panic later felt some calm

to recognize beside her all

the contours of a sister: mandibles

clenched up in solidarity,

the sympathetic sweep of the antennae,

that broad, familiar sloping of the yellow frons.


I find it comforting to think

that we and bees share hierarchies,

with class and queen no mystery

to members of that strange race ruled by flowers.


Leaving bees to their clandestine

microcosm, you lend your metaphors

to grander and more faceless things:

grant intention to the tides,

a buddha to each star.