The Garden of the Fugitives (Texas Review Press, 2014). Originally published in Shenandoah (Spring 2007)




Their time near, Delta women with no use

for doctors know to gather dauber nests

for a silty tea to ease their child

into this world.  To heal the navel,

a poultice, rust-brown, like raw clay,

that dries brittle—

a shard some keep and treasure.


Summer’s end, my daughter leaves home.

As in the weeks before her birth, I clean

everything in sight—even the porch screens

of our century-old house.  Unhinged,

hauled outdoors for their first scrub-down

in years, they reveal, clotting the channels

that anchor our floor-to-ceiling louvers,

clumped fingers of mud dauber nests.

I hack at them with a screwdriver.


I never saw the wasps at work,

welding their nests into these grooves,

toting stunned spiders

to cradleboards where larvae hatched and fed.

On hands and knees, I sweep

catacombs crumbling with leggy remains—

wasp or prey?

The nest-dust salts my eyes,

grits my tongue.