ANOTHER WASP by Abigail Thomas


Since the pandemic, my attention seems to focus on all things tiny. They keep coming my way. Something tickled my wrist just now and I tried to shake off what I thought might be a spider, like yesterday, but turned out to be a wasp. It must have come in with me when I put the corn out for the critters, latching itself to the sleeve of my purple jacket. It is missing a wing. Now it’s crawling up my sleeve which is freaking me out, so after a flurry of activity on my part, the wasp is now sitting under a glass on check number 1440 of my checkbook, which is sitting on the table. I can carry it outside and let it go, which is what I will certainly do in a minute. In just a minute or two. Meanwhile, I look at it, wondering what instinct has taken over. It is so still. Maybe it is waiting for its lost wing to come back. Maybe it is hiding, the way kids do, by closing their eyes. I don’t know. If it were me in there, I’d be screaming and yelling and banging against the walls. If I were missing the human equivalent of a wing, what would that be? an arm?  a leg? There is no human equivalent of a wing. Maybe my mind. My imagination would have been severed. No curiosity. No hope. I would be just as still, unable to have a thought, a plan, or any idea of what had happened.

Company is coming soon, or in an hour or two. Company with food, a farewell of sorts to a friend who is moving to Texas. I look forward to their arrival. One of them has baked a cake. I have done nothing to welcome them, and I will limp around with my cane so they will understand that I’m not good for much of anything.

The wasp. I can’t fix it. I can’t make its life workable. It has folded its remaining wing close to its body so it now resembles an ant, a long black ant. Is this a sign of resignation? Is it trying to be small? Does it feel reassured pulling itself close? Does it know it is doomed? I can’t keep it. A wasp does not deserve to meet its maker trapped under a glass on my checkbook. Where should I deposit this mortally wounded thing? Maybe the Rose of Sharon? It bloomed so extravagantly this year. Maybe the hibiscus, with its red flowers so huge my daughter Jen compares their size to a satellite dish. If it had a voice, this hibiscus, it would boom out its messages. No one would get any sleep. Maybe the hydrangea tree. Oh! A squirrel is making off with one of the corncobs I put there. Two left now.

The wasp is so still. Not a single movement, not a leg twitching, not an antenna shifting, just sitting there under the glass on check number 1440.  Oh little wasp. Show a sign of life, show a little irritation. I lift the glass, but it still doesn’t move. I am behaving as though it is there for my pleasure, to satisfy some curiosity I just discovered. I have to make a decision. Checkbook, wasp and glass in place I grab my cane and take the whole shebang out to the porch, lift the glass, and shake the checkbook over the Rose of Sharon. The wasp clings. Oh hell. This is so hard. I shake it again. Finally I brush the wasp off with the sleeve of my purple jacket, very carefully, so as not to injure it further. I look down but it has vanished. Good luck, little wasp. I didn’t know what else to do.



Photo used under CC