The wasps are dying in my son’s
bedroom, and each morning I rush
to collect them before he wakes
and finds them on the floor. On my
knees, cheek pressed to the thin woolen
rug so I can see them at eye
level, I pick them up by their
wings, by a crooked leg, pinching
parts between my two fingers like
a jeweler. At first the numbers
startle me—I find forty, then
fifty striped bodies, some twisting
in hunger’s throes. Soon their bodies
dwindle to a dozen. I’ve learned
the drones can’t feed themselves, that they
rely on their sisters, the queen’s
will for food and care. Once my boy
leaves for school, his last year before
he heads to college, I return
to the room, lay my head against
a wall, listen for their humming.
I am learning not to cry.

Leona Sevick is the winner of the 2017 Press 53 Poetry Award for her first full-length collection of poems, Lion Brothers. Her work appears in The Southeast Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Spillway, Orion, Blackbird, Shenandoah, and The Southern Review. Her work also appears in the The Golden Shovel Anthology: New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks.