Christine Whittemore

 

 

 

The Paper-Wasp

I tracked her by the sound her mouthparts made:
rasp, rasp, on a dry stick. She straddled it
and worked her jaws, reviving something dead,
collecting shreds of fibre. Once, in Egypt,
strips of plant stem, pressed in crisscross bands,
were made into smooth sheets—a list, a map
of the world beyond, a glove for midwives’ hands
so the child, born into papyrus, would not slip.
Rasp, rasp on a dead stalk; she chews old string
to papier-mâché, builds her fluted chambers,
a symmetry of shadows, multiplying.
Her children prosper, folded in the aumbries,
cradled in paper, smocked in the complex fabric,
the house the wasp has made, her enduring book.

 

 

 

 

 

Christine Whittemore is based in her home county Gloucestershire after years in the US. Her poems have appeared in many publications, including The American Scholar, Orbis, Outposts, and Antiphon, and won several awards. Her novel Inscription is out now.      This is her website: http://www.christine-whittemore.net/

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