After Drought

Shannon Cuthbert


The female grass-carrying wasp
Bears stems three times the length of herself
Up to the storm window,
Lays her brood, soft cocoons them in such gossamer
As her means provide,
Dries sinewy crickets for larvae to feast on.
I disrupt them sealing my house from storm,
Fling the sacs
To arch and scar on my pavement where
I skinned a knee leaving behind
My outline in chalk.
Leaving the circle of skin
To flame out, a million cells rupturing
Where a hand hovered.
My daughter from her sling coos,
Pulls my neck low to her
So I bend as all blades do with the season.
She makes of me a moon,
My face to feed upon,
And I know the neighbors who watch us
And those who turn away
To stare at smoke new on the ridge
Bleak enough to break on.
They say it was a child who jumped
With a fistful of faulty wires
And makeshift wings taped to his tee.
Sparks and turned the valley tinder,
Sky a bruise my daughter takes whole.
She is violet watching.
At the bottom I wonder
If he turned back, made one last v
With legs too late to bear him,
Even cocooned as he was by grass,
By animate stones and a land that exhaled him.




Shannon Cuthbert is a writer and artist living in Brooklyn. Her poems have been nominated for three Pushcarts, and have appeared in journals including Dodging the Rain, Hamilton Stone Review, and The Oddville Press. Her work is forthcoming in Schuylkill Valley Journal, Sparks of Calliope, and Lowestoft Chronicle.