My babysitter told me she had hives
And showed me a hole in the palm of her hand
Where bees kept going out and coming in,
Their yellow fuzz bright against pink skin.
Then she lifted her dress hem and showed me her thigh
Where a knot of the insects pushed against her nylons
And worried the shining network of threads.
She let me snuggle in fearfully, past hand and leg
As we lay down on my living room floor.
I rested my head upon her breast
To hear the great murmur within her body:
Whole chambers of workers and knots of nestlings
Buzzing around blood vessels and below each organ,
And the queen herself ticked out eggs
In a honeycomb beneath my babysitter’s heart.
She was a sweet girl to show me that,
But I could never forget, in all our gentle hours,
The angry rattle that went through her.
© 2008 Elizabeth Penrose. All other content copyright © 2008 ByrenLee Press
Art Director: Bonnie Brunish