By Jessica Pierce
Featured Art by Pieter Holsteyn
The female in particular seems worthy.
She carries mud in her jaws to make her nest
one mouthful at a time, setting up
in a crevice or a corner. One egg,
one chamber. One egg, one chamber.
It’s better to keep them apart, as larvae don’t
know the difference between food and
a brother or a sister. They aren’t wicked,
just young and hungry. She has pirate
wasps to battle—they want her young
to feed their own offspring—and she does this
alone, drinking flower nectar to keep
herself going. Let’s just try
and see what happens when we raise up
this winged thing who will hover by your feet
without attacking. Covered with dense golden
hair and sometimes described as singing while
she works, all she wants is bits of damp dirt.
She has a slender thorax and two thin
sets of wings to carry her and
her earth. She is exactly strong enough
for what she needs to do. She doesn’t burn
or proclaim or fill your head with visions
as she hunts crab spiders and orb
weavers and black widows. Yes, let’s ask
her to pray for us as she stings
a black widow, brings it to its knees,
and sets off to feed her children,
singing as she holds up the world.
Originally Published in NOR 27
A Pushcart Prize nominee, Jessica Pierce has published poems or has work forthcoming in magazines including Bellingham Review, The Madison Review, The New Haven Review, Tar River Poetry, JMWW, Euphony, Painted Bride Quarterly (which also featured her work in the Slush Pile podcast), Mead, The Timberline Review, Illya’s Honey, and Northwest Review. She was a finalist and honorable mention in New Ohio Review’s 2019 NORward Prize for Poetry, a finalist in the 2019 MVICW Poetry Contest, and a recipient of a 2019 MVICW Poet Fellowship. She earned her Ed.M. from Harvard and works in a large public school district to find alternative solutions to expulsion. She ponders parenting while the world is on fire, the workings of the universe and religion, and how we can heal from trauma. Her favorite poetry cheerleaders are her two big-hearted children and her sitar-playing husband.