A scrap of hornets’ gray paper by my chair. Sunlight catches a dead dame’s-rocket below the porch, seed pods reduced to pure gesture.
When I adjust my chair, a stab of pain at the base of my middle finger: a yellow jacket, equally alarmed by the encounter, abdomen pulsing.
First light. A small bird who’d been spending the night in the old hornets’ nest chirps and flutters off. A light dusting of snow.
A half-warm morning, with the sun half out. I notice that birds have made so many holes in the old hornets’ nest, it’s now Janus-faced.
Cloudy and cold. Gusts of wind try on bespoke garments of yellow leaves. The hornets are still flying, tough as the nails in their abdomens.
Bright morning after a cold night. A hornet drops from her nest, hitting the porch floor with an audible tick, then flies unsteadily away.
The front-porch hornets have dwindled; the new queens must’ve pupated and gone. The remaining workers soldier on like unRaptured Christians.
A dead hornet lies on her back beside my chair with her six legs folded neatly over her thorax. At the woods’ edge, a rain of yellow leaves.
On the underside of a porch railing, a hornet gathers a mouthful of wood. A small yellow leaf caught in a spiderweb twirls in the wind.
Four degrees above freezing. When I nudge the foot of a hornet clinging to the bottom of the railing, she swings her leg out in a slow arc.
Patches of frost in the yard. A yellow jacket from the underground nest in the garden lands on the shoulder of my sunlit coat.
A honeybee lands on the porch railing, and seconds later, a hornet lands four inches away. When the bee takes flight, so does the hornet.