the wasp

I pointed to the wasp and said to my mother
it has been there all day, smacking itself against the cupboard door
so desperate, in its futile attempt at freedom

look at it, just look at it

then without a word, my mother reached for a can
and suddenly the creature was engulfed in fumes
dropping down, right there on the counter top

where it became demented

as it writhed and wriggled, soundlessly
a creature in the last agonising throes of life
and all I could do was watch

the contortions of its black and yellow thorax
contracting, in an unnatural sort of pain;
one that I had unwittingly caused

for no purpose, or gain

then my mother turned to me, as though it were nothing
and told me don’t worry, it would be dead
by the time we returned to get the milk

let’s just go, come on

but still I could not avert my gaze
I was stuck there, staring desolately
appalled by the savagery of its struggle

unable to extricate itself from its fate;
a reminder of the ghastliness and affliction
we have become inured to

or bypass, because it’s not our business

so I said wait, and scooped the wasp up on a cold silver spoon
to lay it gently outside, abandoned in the dirt
where it should have been free to roam

to be what it is, and use its wings
but instead it was arrested in stillness
for the poor thing was crippled, and so was I

but oh
with guilt, with guilt

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