Empathy for the Mud Dauber

Brit Barnhouse is a writing studies student at the University of Washington Tacoma. When not writing about the ever-blurred lines between animals and humans, she can be found giving her dogs belly rubs, saving spiders from her cats, or tossing treats out to the neighborhood crows.

Empathy for the Mud Dauber

I placed a glass flush against the wall,
its rim encircling a polished body—
black with yellow bands above a waistline
thin as needles.

I slid the paper under,
whispering to the buzzing beast,
“Watch your toes, lest they be trapped,
stubbed carelessly.”

I carried her to open sky and
marveled as she took flight,
shrinking into distance placed
between us.

If I ever find myself adrift,
a stranger to my surroundings,
I hope whatever finds me takes a moment
to lament my bafflement, and
forgive confused retaliation,
instead of stamping me out,
as an impulse crushed into earth


[image: mud dauber wasp | Rahul Alvares]

4 thoughts on “Empathy for the Mud Dauber

  1. The desire for returned compassion from a brutal world in return for common gentleness. I like it. It actually made me weep slightly. Your work is embedded with a delicateness, a hope not from naivety, but from experience.


  2. I just adore this poem. Especially after a visit to Missouri a few weeks ago and watching my mother attack the wasps we kept finding inside her house with a flyswatter. This approach so much kinder indeed. And much braver!


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