The Hornet



The sun, reluctant to move, lay where he was:

We suffered underneath in pleasant shade

Of beer-garden birches, blue sky above awash

With relished light. No single word was said

That was not laughter. Your collar coolly opened

Like a flower; you had half-devoured the nectar

Of your drink; a separate shadow floated

Nearby, making shadow sounds: a mixture

Of leafy rushes and something, just what was it:

Something seething. I rose my dreamy head

To nightmare: back arched, jerk-kneed in the panic

We leapt, careering over the table’s wood

To fly from the hornet. Heavier than sound,

Duller than dread, it thundered motionless

About our wine – table, abandoned now,

Like Chernobyl or Nagasaki, sparse hopelessness.

It presumed droit de seigneur over your glass

And, as a lord, plunged graceless to the wine –

No truer horror have I known than this –

And in its drunken spite, spat out in bile

And spurts of yellow-stinging suicide,

We looked on as orphans at the animal,

The beast that bereaved us. It thanklessly slid

Into your drink, gargled like a broth

Of foulest brew, it frothed and spat and we

Could not believe how long hate took to die:

Leaving a half-preserved atrocity

Floating in wine, glass prism, mortuary.



Based on true events. There is nothing in England – no predator, natural phenomenon or otherworldly presence – so foul and abominable, monstrous, reckless, undignified, capricious and putrescent as the hornet. Here, I have tried to use the hornet potentially as a metaphor for a certain topic of conversation – something bigoted and unwelcome – descending upon us during an otherwise pleasant afternoon at the pub. It ruins the day. It ruins everything. It gluts on our wine and feeds, grows fat and loud in our company. It brings us to the level of a revolting and vicious creature.

Although in all honesty, this was originally just a sort of written therapy to exorcise from my memory just how bloody horrible the hornet was. 




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