Beauty and the nest

For weeks, walkers pass the bush
and gawk, hibiscus blooms like party
plates, candy pink, a swirl of white—
exactly what you’d serve a slice
of birthday cake on— out on the deck
the backyard looped with crepe paper
limp balloons taped to old brick
waving slightly tired in the breeze.
It is a tropical display, gawdy for this
northern place and true to form
our bees and butterflies ignore
Disco Belle Pink although she tempts
with wavery paint, her bold red eye.

Above the hoopla, bald faced hornets
build their nest in the crabapple
hanging grey pinata
swinging there, all billowed layers.
I could have sprayed it off in spring
like one attached to the garage door
but this feels like it belongs.
The patience of a hornet home
is everyday improvement. How busy
female worker wasps all day chewing
gobs of wood, pasting tiny strips
of pulp, making paper maché until
it swells –husk of elephant skin.

I want to make a banner welcoming
the wasps: For true beauty, look
above! But my lawyer neighbor
talks of liability, my homeowner’s
policy, what it says of bees and pests.
And, yes, all the articles I read warn
of the dangers of my Hymenoptera
friends: “What is the point of wasps?”
the BBC, “9 Seriously Horrifying Reasons
To Fear the Bald-Faced Hornet,”
Meanwhile, my little black and white faced
friends, tiny ghosts, dip in and out of their
door hole, wipe their tiny feet & disappear.


Poem by Ellen Stone

Ellen Stone grew up on the north branch of the Susquehanna River in the Appalachian Mountains of rural Pennsylvania. She advises a poetry club at Community High School and co-hosts a monthly poetry series, Skazat! in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ellen’s poems have appeared most recently in Anti-Heroin Chic, Great Lakes Review and Rust + Moth among other places. She is the author of What Is in the Blood (Mayapple Press, 2020) and The Solid Living World (Michigan Writers’ Cooperative Press, 2013). Ellen’s poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart prize and Best of the Net. Reach Ellen at

1 Comment

Comments are closed.