is the place the wasps come in.
You have no choice but to let them.
Buzzing the ceiling, flying high
when they need to fly low. Guide
them out the screen if you can,
goose them with a paper when they land.
Home is the earring with the missing stone,
the hole you probe, wondering what will fit
in the space and where the lost piece is.
The dog who went over the fence
not by plan but chance, paws on top
and feeling it give, giving in to it.
Mice who find their way in
to live through the winter—
and who doesn’t have
to live through a winter
of some sort or another?
It is the lover who left
and then came back,
unable to decide which is best.
The chipped glass marble buried in the dirt,
it catches your eye as you wait
on the corner with the runaway dog,
This poem began with a prompt from the poet Leonard Gontarek, who leads my weekly poetry group, to write on the theme of home, in quatrains, with a varying rhyme-scheme within each quatrain. In the first, the 3rd and 4th lines were to rhyme, in the second quatrain, and 1st and 2nd lines, no rhyme in the third quatrain, and the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in the fourth quatrain. After that, you could do whatever you wanted. I followed that in the initial draft, and then ended up making some changes away from that scheme in the 4th quatrain. It turned out to be better poetry to ditch the rhyme there—though I did keep it in the earlier quatrains.
Around that time our dog, a rescue Treeing Walker Coonhound, figured out how to get out of our back yard. A neighbor would knock on my door, and say, “Your dog’s out,” or I would go out into the backyard and find him missing. Then I would go into panic mode, because Coonhounds have no traffic sense, they just follow their noses. I would be running around the neighborhood frantically calling for my dog, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. On one of our walks, I saw something glinting in the dirt by a street corner. When I investigated further, it turned out to be a marble. It was the end of October, so the time that creatures such as wasps start to appear and die on windowsills, and mice want to come in. I might have also noticed a stone missing from one of my earrings at that time—or that might have been a memory that came to mind as I was writing.
In short, this poem came from certain aspects of my life that were on my mind, but the form led me to approach them from a new angle.
Alison Hicks is the author of a full-length collection of poems, Kiss (PS Books, 2011), a chapbook, Falling Dreams (Finishing Line Press, 2006), and a novella, Love: A Story of Images (AWA Press, 2004), a finalist in the 1999 Quarterly West Novella Competition. Her work has appeared in Crack the Spine, Eclipse, Fifth Wednesday, Gargoyle, Licking River Review, Louisville Review, Permafrost, Sanskrit, Whiskey Island, and other journals. Awards include the 2011 Philadelphia City Paper Poetry Prize and two Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowships. She is founder of Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio, which offers community-based writing workshops.