issue 6poetry

Autumn Wasp

yellow jacket wasp macro photography

Harriet MacMillan

You have made of me an autumn wasp.
The last yellow gasp of summer was uttered
and the air crisped around me, solidifying into
acorns. A quirky carpet for the forest floor,
pebble-dashing the places where leaves will
soon leave epitaphs upon the dying grass.

See the stripes you have painted upon me,
the fluttered slits on my thorax where light
and dark waned and then were made to wax.
Now with all my eyes I can see. I don’t
think about the hours spent wasted, your
palms swatting the slant of my gaster. Your
mastery of my legs, my waist, my taste.

In between columns of oak, the gloaming softens
then rises sooted and smoked. I needed warmth
and a home and you promised me fruit. Only now
do I taste the undercurrent of the bramble,
the furring of the damson. Slurring my speech,
burdening my wings until I’m merely humming.

I am trapped behind glass. Hand smudges
map a forbidden path to nutmegged leaves.
I beat and beat myself against the window
though there is no way now to go through.
You should not touch me; I will hurt you.


Dr. Harriet MacMillan is from Edinburgh, Scotland. She has a PhD in feminist rewritings of mythology from the University of Edinburgh and an MSt in Creative Writing from the University of Oxford. She is a Literature Officer at Creative Scotland and Manager of the Forward Poetry Prizes. Her poetry and prose has appeared in publications including Mslexia, Aesthetica and the The Hippocrates Anthology of Poetry and Medicine.