Consult a termite queen
before she scratches
off her nuptial flight wings
and after, when she sweats fat
inside her earthen capsule
where she once nestled
with her king, nymphs in love
with solitude. Who counts
seconds when every third
she lays another egg
of a quarter billion?
She grows translucent.
Colony-whirr fills the cathedral
mound above her, an insistent
dispenser whose stillness
releases everything that is
not it in a static procession
of white, like bubbles drawn
around captioned thought.
We deem an insect mother who lingers
after delivery, flips eggs on occasion, guards
her brood until maturity exemplary.
If she undertakes a midday move
on finding her clutch disturbed,
she nearly overturns our stereotype,
but given the breast, we demand more,
commend mum only after she hand-sews
strawberry sundresses with matching purses
like Christa Lewis’ mother, scoops
487 melon-ball wedding appetizers,
bequeaths chestnut wardrobes early,
while earwig young proliferate continents
where care is not quantifiable—
the countless ones she keeps anyway
from eating one another.
After E.O. Wilson, who coined the theory
We distrust forces
we can’t divorce,
but gravity doesn’t zigzag
one to light by a true lover’s knot,
or tidal eddies carry him off;
the gauge that lifts a chin
or draws air from the chest
when, curious or kin, he circles back
hasn’t been invented yet.
Amy Wright is the Nonfiction Editor of Zone 3 Press and Zone 3 journal and the author of five chapbooks. Some of her published work is online here.