That summer even the dust was sticky // heat was so cheap // we could all afford it // us poor filled jars with heat // stacked it up in sheds // on the edge of the swamplands // heat pooling on the sides // vibrating the tin // harmonics blasting // from all the different sizes // this was our orchestra // crickets bleating // rubbing themselves together // but then the wasps came // tens of them // then hundreds // then thousands // the buzz infernal // we started to tune it // like tv static // hear the words in it // they are coming // they are under the skin // we learnt to scream // inside our heads // to keep us safe // but nothing could protect us // from the stings // when they would sneak // under cotton // so the mothers // they put the biggest pots on the stoves // made sugar syrup // litres and litres of it // bubbling magma // white crystal flowing // the fathers pour it // into the jars // sugar jars // they call them // we hang them // on trees // on awnings // outside // inside // and the wasps // they come to drink // then drown // with their mouths full // of sugar
Ruby Solly (Kai Tahu, Waitaha) is a writer and musician living in Pōneke. She has been published in journals such as Landfall, Starling, Mimicry, and Poetry NZ. Her poem ‘Six Feet For a Single Eight Feet For a Double’ was recently featured in Best New Zealand Poems 2020. Her debut poetry collection, Tōku Pāpā is being released by Victoria University Press in 2021.