Vespa by Rupert Nevin

 

I have a house wasp.

A roomie.

He slid in

last Tuesday

and has flounced around

ever since.

Non-stop.

And, until recently,

I wanted rid.

 

“I’m just dropping by,”

he quips airily,

announcing his arrival.

“Despite what you might think,

I was until recently

an invaluable predator

and pollinator extraordinaire.

 

But my Queen is dead.

My summer’s labour is done.

Perhaps you might consider me more

as a colonial exile

than a human aggressor.”

“Nah,” I retort,

“you’re just a febrile hooligan.”

 

“But I will be considerate,”

the wasp protests,

slipping behind curtains.

“I’m quite sociable

as it happens,

although you might never have guessed.”

 

He skits and scuds,

carefully keeping

out of my range.

Then one final buzz

and all is eerily quiet.

That’s strange.

 

With lissom thorax distended,

he suddenly launches

from his abdomen

a tangy secretion at

the window pane.

Then he put-puts off to find

something else to defecate.

Oh, splendid.

 

“You have left a stain!” I cry.

“Ah, but shoot and scoot

is not an act of vandalism,”

the wasp objects,

“but a product of my metabolism.”

Yeah, right.

 

This late-summer solitary raver;

Personal space invader;

yellow-jacketed looter;

pheromone-driven destroyer,

raider and freeloader

is now buzzing around the place

like a Vespa scooter.

 

And hard as I try to sleep that night,

he moves to the next phase

of his occupation:

noisy overfly and mapping survey.

This vespoid loiters,

persistent in his reconnoitres.

Causing me massive aggravation.

 

He even laughs as he leaps

in the dark between windows.

“You can rest, if you must;

but a wasp never sleeps.”

 

Aerial assessment complete,

he moves in the morning

to phase three:

airborne assault

without warning.

 

Like a Doodlebug looming,

a monotonous drone.

Four wings beating

an ominous tone.

Then a series

of death-defying sorties.

Onto whatever he can eat.

 

This nuisance of a wasp

wantonly barrels his mandible

into my crab apple

and away he skedaddles

for anything else

that might be edible.

 

Now, I know they say

that wasps are the farmer’s saviour

and protect their crops from pests.

But I simply can’t stand

this unwanted guest’s

manic, neurotic behaviour.

 

One moment: a vespine biped.

Next: a flying moped.

He smears more pictures

then hovers for another snack.

He wants to be a permanent fixture

but I am concerned

that this is a confined area.

Maybe the wasp species is maligned.

But I resolve on counter-attack.

 

I try, to no avail,

opening the window;

whacking with a slipper;

swatting with a folded newspaper;

capturing with cup and saucer

and flicking him with my finger.

Each time I fail.

 

I decide to be smarter.

I plead and implore

him to acquiesce

in my polite request

for his immediate departure.

Which he, of course, ignores.

 

So I threaten his life.

And yes, harsher measures:

insect killing spray and suchlike.

But all without success.

 

Given his apparent intransigency,

I finally offer hospitality

and set out a jar of honey –

locally sourced of course

and heavily scented.

Something to get stuck into.

In a quite literal sense.

 

The wasp lingers on the window sill

and observes the jam jar top,

through which I have pierced

a small hole. Then, with a smirk,

he says, “we need to talk about this.

No, seriously, that is not much of a trap.

But if you want me to leave, I will.”

 

To add insult to injury, he adds,

“anyway, being frank about this, old chap,

I can never quite understand

the human attraction

to a smelly, white caravan.”

 

Which, to his credit,

are quite good jokes

for what until then

had been an otherwise

annoying paraphyletic.

 

He asks for a truce.

He knows I am vexed.

“A cease fire on both sides

will suit us both,” he claims.

You can guess for yourself

what happens next.

But somehow

we have become friends.

 

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