Embrace by Janie StapletonPoecology
Issue 5

Ellen Bass

Chalcid Wasps Emerging

I like to stare into the microscope at the cluster of eggs
Janet found on the hollyhock growing by the shed
and reared in a petri dish
amid the clutter on the kitchen counter.
Their shells are lined in tight, neat rows,
most empty now,
tops sheared off like soft-boiled eggs,
minute wasps hatched and gone.
Yet one lies dead on its side,
frozen where it fell—
metallic green body, bright yellow legs—
perfect, gem-like,
as if to illustrate its kind.
Another is caught halfway out, like a woman
jumping from a cake,
upper body gleaming, arms raised, glamorous.
One freed only its head,
huge eyes glistening with silvery mold.
And the last had just, when breath stopped,
stabbed both antennae through the dome
as if forever sensing the air.
Every time I look, they are still trapped there,
as though buried in a past ice age,
only now exposed.
Half a million species—the smallest of the small—
each burning its own brief blaze.