To a Thread-Waisted Sphecid Wasp in Enola, PA

Nina Ellen Riggs

I’ve been left alone on my third wedding anniversary
until you return to my stoop with your payload,
a radiant caterpillar gripped in your mouth, clinging
all along your belly. At first I thought it might be
attacking you. You dove loud and low, almost hopped,
as if trying to shake it off. Those million legs
kept flipping you. Yesterday I watched you push against 
each other on the steps until tumbling into a spider’s web.
While you thrashed and freed yourself, the caterpillar fell
limp, maybe knowing to save energy for some fragile version

of the afterlife. And today when you hum in from the river,
I can see right away the caterpillar is finally dead, although
you are still wrapped in full-body embrace. I forgive this
deception: this morning I allowed a fly to crawl the length
of my leg because I wanted to be touched, and a perfect
stillness sometimes feels like something’s coming.

The two of you make a remarkable creature, your glossy body
and violently blue belt, that corpse a flush berth beneath.
In fusion, you have altered each other, and my heart,
a nucleus, splits and splits. Its next punch could be its burst.

With four of your legs, you draw the weight you carry close,
a final cradle, and—bomber that you are—you spread 
two dangerous wings, lift off for the river. Wasp,
we are not simple vessels. We are blistering atoms seeking
to be cracked, our bodies expanding into a cloud.
© 2007 University of North Carolina Greensboro


NINA ELLEN RIGGS received her MFA from UNC Greensboro in 2004. Her work has appeared in magazines such as The Southern Reivew, The Threepenny Review, and The Antioch Reivew. She currently works as a book designer and teaches creative writing at UNC-Chapel Hill.