Poetry

Wasps

Louise Glück

Action is not a symbol of meaning. For example,
if I stick a needle into your arm which hypothetically,
could kill you, this does not mean I bear you
any ill will—this is not assault, this is not warfare,
we are not two tribes pitted against each other, two brothers
fighting over the same lady. You human beings never understand
that these exchanges of essence lack significance: the fact is,
you are a stranger to me—not even a stranger; you are
a piece of a stranger, an arm or a leg; I did not wake this morning
filled with hate; I thought only what a glorious morning, how sweet
the bee-balm is, and the streets, how filled they are with naked people—
the season for nakedness is also
the season for wasps: this proves our view of nature
as essentially collaborative. Humans
reject these principles without reflection—the creature
who shared a little blood with you on a beautiful summer day
has no feeling for you of any kind.
Perhaps when you are less paranoid you will understand
these ideas; you will be liberated
to move through nature as we do, effortlessly,
while you are still encumbered with mirrors.

Louise Glück is a poet and essayist. She is the Rosenkranz Writer-in-Residence at Yale and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2020.
Originally published:
October 1, 2011

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