The wasp holds her abdomen over the leaf,
wings throbbing, swings her ovipositor around,
and stings. Then it starts.
This leaf will never be the same as the others.
It will never pack exact light into cells,
twist from its stem in the fall
and scrape into a dry wash.
Slowly it will become deformed.
Slowly it will build what it was never meant to build,
a crown, or a blade, or a long pink thorn.
The cells have gone wild from toxins,
but the rest of the leaf does not want to know:
It just wants to go back to its factories of chlorophyll.
The scar insists, so the leaf folds cells around it
and a green wall begins to grow.
Slowly the wasp egg receives its instructions
and turns into chitin. The wasp breaks out
and veers into the world. The gall stays on the leaf.
Only a hole remains where the wasp bit its way out.
The leaf is beautiful, in its way.
It’s got this mad cathedral at its center.
© Ellery Akers