My Sister and the Hornets
Out of the amniotic past seeped spring summer wind, inchoate in the breath of a comet. As if from outside machinery I observe myself in the late 1960s in our backyard, blurred lawn at my feet. My sister bore a stick, approaching the hive of hornets, in memory in a tree, honeycomb sibilant, bugs rattling in crawlspaces, compound eyes with bad vision, venom darning all. A swollen limb, scoriac and teeming, held the nest of the insects, a root skinned to the teeth, white paper like britches.
Once Dad came home when I was in a nap – he offered me a red hand in a toy globe, a hypnagogic trinket.
“Don’t hit the tree. We’re not supposed to hit the tree,” my mandible working. As sure as the seasons fly through space, my sister marched on the nest and whacked. Sting marks reddening as the beasts erupted, we screamed toward the sliding door.
I took the above photograph in August 1975 in Yellowstone Park, one of the first photos I ever took. The scene looks a little bit like ancient Mars painted by John Martin.
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