The Sleep Of Wasps

by Giles Goodland

For days I have watched them
in their roadmender jackets
heads to the wall, airborne and air-born,
threading a crack, touch-feeling
a route into the ventilation grille.
One evening I puff a cloud inside.

When I look next day, their house
is made of paper, stalked like a brain
cased snugly in the wall-void.
Their bodies parked, as if in
a port of delicate craft, after
a sandstorm, or as if touched
by sleep, the dust they folded under.

I brush away the poison
and unhang the paper lantern
and as I hold it a breath of wind
blows its roof away to show
its inner tissues, the pupae
responding inside their cells
like baby’s fingers.
I call my son to see this—
this stillborn blindness that will not live
and he tells me to put it away.

Standing with him in the sun
this white powder coming down on us
is only sunlight, through puffs of cloud.
But those grubby digits he had seen
reached towards the light we stood between.