On Transformation (With Figs)
Kathryn Smith (bio)

Wasps stream from the fig in an endless
ribbon. The insects hatched in the fruit’s hidden
garden, hundreds of tiny flowers lining the fig’s

inner wall. It’s a realm accessible through one
small passageway, wasp-sized, and only
the wasps know it. Once they’ve emerged,

they can’t turn back. Each wasp will find
another fruit to enter, a place to lay her eggs.
She knows which tree is hers, each species

of wasp drawn, intrinsically, to its own species of tree.
A symbiosis 80 million years in the making
looks like infestation, the fruit a ruin,

the tree past hope. But it’s how things survive.
It’s how the wasp perpetuates her species. It’s how
she pollinates each tiny fig flower, spreading

the microscopic code the fruit needs to set seed,
the tree’s next incarnation, and how the fig, once the wasps
depart, swells and ripens into sweet food for something else.

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