Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

“Summer’s End”

Janice Hornburg is a native Texan who moved to East Tennessee in 1993. A graduate of Houston Baptist University, she works a clinical research scientist involved in the FDA approval of new drugs. Her poems have won first-place awards from the Poetry Society of Tennessee, The Poetry Society of Texas, the Poetry Society of Virginia, the Watauga Branch of the National League of American Pen Women, and Green River Writers; and her work has appeared in a number of anthologies and literary journals . “Summer’s End” is an excerpt from Perspectives, which has just been released.

Summer’s End

I’ve watched its construction,
chamber by hexagonal chamber,
from stalked paper scrap
fastened under sheltering
eaves to a black,
bristling hive.

I sat out summer in this chair
where once I snapped half-runners
into a chipped porcelain bowl
as locusts droned second-fiddle
to children’s laughter and the clink
of Mason jars boiling on the stove.

Queen mother and daughters
build together to birth a dynasty.
My daughters buzz home, wearing
business suits and worried looks
with new husbands and grandchildren
whose names I forget.

Black wings and burnished bodies
bustle above my head,
brush my idle, spotted hands fastened
like claws around palm-polished
wood. I struggle to stand;
the wasps cause no harm.

Back in the kitchen, I smell kerosene.
It comes to me—this is the last day.
The screen door bangs.
“Mother, I burned out that wasp nest
so the auctioneer won’t get stung.
Are you packed yet?”