Winged Swimmer
by Joanie HF Zosike

A hapless wasp took a swim in a pool
It was not wearing water wings
It was, in fact, in process of drowning
And there I was, in the pool with it
I was done with the backstroke,
Crawl, dog paddle and breaststroke—
My full repertoire of inept skills

Now on to my favorite, on my back
Staring at the blue sky with its
White clouds moving mysteriously
The sun glancing on the water
This is paradise, I think, when…
Suddenly I feel a harsh, toxic prick
And I see stars, not clouds—I see—

My great-great grandmother running
From her hovel, speaking a mixture
Of Polish and Yiddish, in near hysterics
At the severity of my indignant outcry:
“I’m hurt, something is devouring me”
Strong hands reach to pull me out
Grand-bubbie’s face morphs into that

Of the lifeguard, concerned, but less
Affected by my wound. “Ow, my arm,
My arm,” I cry; she lifts it up to see a
Fairly mangled wasp under my arm
Surely it drew its last breath with a
Kamikaze swoop, its battle cry a series
Of glug-glug-glug, bzzz-bzzz-bzzz and
Epithets about the lack of civilization

PHOTO: Wasp in swimming pool.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The sting is the most vivid part of this memory. I can’t remember when or where this happened, but I recall the sudden shock of that sting—as well as pulling the stinger out of my armpit. Never underestimate the ingenuity of an insect. Nowadays, I keep my eye out for buzzing wasps before entering a pool.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joanie HF Zosike has appeared frequently in Silver Birch Press publications online and in hard copy, most notably Ides, The Great Gatsby Anthology, Alice in Wonderland Anthology, and Summer Anthology. Other publications include At the Edge (artistsinthekitchen.org), Bastille (Paris), clockwise.wordpress.com, Heresies, Levure Literaire online (Paris), Maintenant (Issues 4-10, Three Rooms Press), Public Illumination Magazine (PIM) a.nd Zeitriss. She is currently working on a novel.

AUTHOR PHOTO: Joanie HF Zosike (aka Joanie Fritz Zosike), backstage, DADAnewyork performance at Theater for the New City, East Village, New York City, Memorial Day Weekend, 2016. Photo: Joanie HF Zosike