Why I was Nearly Naked in a Customer’s Gardens

 -for Helen Mathieson

Exposed to lakeside neighbors, I spiked
my spade beneath a slanted stone step, pushing
the handle, prying its sunkeness upward.

And up they came, invisibly to me,
they were just there; buzzing black and
white bodies swarming the air.

Who knew these pollinators would stick to
fleece? Or through how many layers their
stingers could tear? Synthetic shirt soaring

with the shovel, skin already swelling
beneath swiftly falling pants. A storm
of swears flies with the still-free wasps

while others squirm, trapped in the web of my
clothes, from which I’ll soon angrily and individually
flick them free despite my now public near-nudity.


Poem by Josh Nicolaisen
Josh Nicolaisen taught English for twelve years. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife, Sara, and their daughters, Grace and Azalea. His poems have recently appeared in So It Goes, Chrysanthemum, Nixes Mate Review, Writers Resist, On and Off the Road: Poems of New Hampshire, and others. Find him at www.oldmangardening.com/poetry