Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wasp Death

'Ever heard of a skip?' We looked around the loft together at the piles of filled bin bags and boxes.
'It's my husband,' I said, since he wasn't there. 'can't throw anything away.'
'Well if I start to run, you run.'
I shifted a little closer to the loft hatch.
'I'm afraid that they might be underneath one of these.' He started to lift up the nearest bag and listened. 'I can hear them.'
He lifted slowly. Nothing. Then he reached for another.
I looked around me. The old nest was empty and the new one I'd spotted - the size of a golf ball - had been abandoned.
'Perhaps they're underneath the felt.' He took another step forward and directed his flashlight onto the rafters.
'Got a stick?'
I passed him an old pole attached to an old fishing net and he prodded at the ceiling.

We listened again and I looked around noticing all the ridiculous things we shove up here 'for later' or 'just in case': old pillows, old quilts, buckets and spades for the beach, an old windbreak, Christmas decorations, outgrown toys, my research for my books, and the old picnic hamper we bought dreaming of family picnics and somehow never found practical and soon will be redundant anyway.
'What is the point of keeping all this?' I asked the wasp nest eradicator. 'Once half this stuff goes up here it's useless anyway.'
His prodding stopped.
'I think I've found it.' He said quietly. 'It's a big one. Want to see?'
It was buried beneath lagging, spread from one joist to the next: yellow, buzzing, dangerous.
A solitary wasp came out and waggled its abdomen at us.
'What are you going to do now?'
'Pump some poison into them. They'll be dead by nightfall.'

Later we went outside to inspect his results. Peering up to the roof edge we could see just a couple of wasps flying groggily.
'See the white one? That means the powder got them. They'll be buzzing around for a bit, but in a few hours...'

Last night I slept. A storm threw down rain and lashed the air with lightning and gusts of ozone. But still I slept. I think I dreamt of annihilation and death. Blood dripped from wounds and the air was thick with white poisons and dust. My hand reached out and something touched it. I woke and something dripped on it again. Cold but not sticky. A big drop and then another one slightly smaller. I sniffed it. Not blood but water. Not the corpses of wasps but the rain flooding through some imperfect flashing by the chimney breast.


Blogger Susangalique said...

wow, I can tell you do this for a living. YOu are really good. This was as good as any book I have read since last summer.

I am going to have to get your stuff.

Wed Jun 20, 05:27:00 pm  
Anonymous crimeficreader said...

I hope you sleep now, Clare!

And no awful dreams unless they leash out some unexpected creativity on your part!


Wed Jun 20, 07:41:00 pm  
Anonymous marly said...

Clare, you have definitely got a story here--the last and this both feel like "pieces" of something larger and more ominous.

Thu Jun 21, 04:32:00 pm  
Blogger Lori Witzel said...

Ditto on the wonderfulness -- spinning gold from the dry scratchy straw of insomnia and insect dreams.

It also put me in mind of an essay/short piece I read...darn, too long ago, now I'll need to sift through using Google...about the terrifying fecundity of nature.


Back again -- the dusty recall was from reading Annie Dillard's A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, and a section titled "Fecundity."

Here's a tiny quote:
"What if God has the same affectionate disregard for us that we have for barnacles? I don’t know if each barnacle larva is of itself unique and special, or if we the people are essentially as interchangeable as bricks. My brain is full of numbers; they swell and would split my skull like a shell. I examine the trapezoids of skin covering the back of my hands like blown dust motes moistened to clay. I have hatched, too, with millions of my kind, into a milky way that spreads from an unknown shore."

Fri Jun 22, 03:38:00 am  
Anonymous Clare said...

Thank you all! I've had a horrible week and your comments have bucked me up no end!

Fri Jun 22, 09:50:00 pm  

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