With bees, it isn’t the sting itself
but the unprovoked attack
How unfair to walk unwary, barefoot
on hot concrete, simply
pleasuring your feet,
or stepping down on a beach towel
only to be assaulted by the small plot
of something you meant no harm to.
That first pain is learned the hard way:
at five, you call
all-y, all-y, all come free
singing blind into a hive
hidden in the swing-set’s pole, then fall
what seemed the longest
fall; a cloud of bees flowered from your lips.
And later, put to bed with ice
and ointments melting over
the welts that covered you,
there was no explaining the bees’
behavior, no way to comprehend the reason
in their rage. You may never understand
this: the will behind the stinger,
a certain, fatal anger to survive.
Copyright © 1995 Erin Belieu
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.