Stigma, n. (in flowers) the female part of the pistil
that receives pollen during pollination
For Melissa W.
There is no real love in the apiary.
Hive mentality: 1. Fatten until you reign
your country on a throne of propolis.
2. Copulate until you explode
with larval broods. Honey makes me sick,
and so does the Queen Bee. Even
in sleep, I see the arrows point at drones
stuck to the ceiling, sparkling spastically
like the sequins on a girl’s yellow prom
dress. Some girls pray to be Queen.
They think: wouldn’t it be terrific, to be
wanted like that. Wouldn’t it be terrific,
to be stroked and adored, to lose your virginity
in the glorious aftermath of royal jelly.
Wouldn’t it be terrific to roost, rest, be the envy
and the mother of all. But one girl turns
the other way. At lunch she eats green tea mochi
on the edge of the field, scouts unpopulated
places—a lemon tree, a barberry bush.
Dreading assemblies and cafeterias, she ducks
under the library’s front steps, smuggling
field guides or National Geographics
with covers of jewel beetles and capybaras,
counting the minutes until recess is over
and biology begins. The price of sincerity:
when the honeybee shucks the anthers
from the camellia, an anthem begins.
It’s a slow soprano. An anathema. It screams
from deep inside its ribs. It’s a blues,
an aria, an index of heartbreaks. It may break
a thousand mirrors before the pollen descends,
ashes over caldera. Split gorge. Fever. Finally,
the bee pollinates the stigma. The girl curse
sounds like that—a drone of flaws announcing
each maladaptive limb, freckle, admittance
of shame. How to battle this monster?
It is known that Japanese honeybees grew
immune to the vicious Asian giant hornet
by laying a trap: 1. Lure him into the threshold
of an open hive. 2. Besiege him—surround
the saboteur with a wall of impenetrable
bodies. 3. Vibrate until the temperature
reaches 115°F. 4. He will die from the heat
and carbon dioxide. His husk will break,
his heft will plummet. I don’t teach my girls
to brave the violence of sun, sons, or stings.
When resources run out, don’t sit there and behave.
Abandon hive. If the hornet breaks the heat net,
save yourself. Abandon yen. Abandon majesty.
Spit the light out because it sears you so.
Copyright © 2014 Sally Wen Mao
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.