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on wasps

By Chaerim Kim-Worthington

i. questions for wasps

figs, wasps, noah’s ark. they are all connected in some intertextual way that i can’t quite fathom. wasps lay their eggs in figs and burrow into them, breaking their wings. did the wasp ever know what honey tastes like? does the fig feel like a mother to the wasp eggs? there is a hollow belly of a ship and it is filled with animals. did the wasps make it onto the ship? are there figs for them to eat and die in? i ask questions about wasps and figs and noah’s ark the same way i prepare for english class discussions, with a laundry list to ask. does the wasp know that i feel like my wings have been torn and my honey wringed out, like beeswax being squeezed? does the wasp think “i’ve wrecked my body like a stubborn child and now i don’t know if i want to have babies”? is it scared? i am hollow like the beams of the ark (and the argo, and the pequod, and the hundreds of ship names i memorized). i bear no figs and i burn like the body of a mother wasp. no children, no wings. i think the way that they’re connected: the fig is noah’s ark, is the whole world, and i the wasp.

ii. biblical yellow and black

instead of mosquito bites i have wasp bites. i have toxicity where i should ooze honey and nectar. i adorn myself with a crown of stingers instead of anything soft and kind, thorns instead of flowers. i am the biblical, the swarm of hornets and the mass of bees and honey in the lion’s carcass. let wasps worm their way into my skin, i will not change. i am judas kissing jesus, samuel kissing saul, god kissing my forehead and asking is this really how i made you? where are your yellow stripes and your poison, dripped over teeth? everything that makes me me, i replace with wasps. and though after my skin worms destroy my body, yet in my flesh i shall see God. 

iii. homer’s wasps

figs and wasps are not like homer. the wasp is not a tragic hero who crawls into the fig, leaving behind antennae and wings, and martyrs itself for its progeny. but i kiss homer’s hands, and sing their terrible funeral barge, and i am more certain than anything in life that if he knew about the wasps in figs he would compare Bold Hector to the dying wasp. homer, please, i beg of you- not every wasp is hector. some wasps are scared. some wasps suddenly stopped wanting to die and now are stranded with no purpose in life- they see the figs. they know it’s what they were supposed to do. and for the first time in their wasp life they’re scared to die.

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