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.