By Jen Karetnick

           —for my father

Under the hurricane lantern of a hornet’s nest,
insects blinking in and out to smooth the mud
as if with cat’s tongue or potter’s hands, bugs
in the dark blue space between oak branches and grass
pulse and burn the way of a migraine, light up
like questions that have no answers or would have
no answers if anyone thought to ask them,
brief as the air in the jar of childhood Augusts,
Morse code for the females who wait in the gloom
to mate them or to eat them, depending on
their staccato moods, beating throughout the night
like my father’s heart in the emergency room,
seized by glass eyes under machines and by grid,
collective breath held tight that might loosen the lid.