raise your hand if you're jelly of that camping trip Teddy had with John Muir

We wouldn’t have National Parks if Roosevelt’s family had stayed alive

Grief doesn’t belong indoors

It’s too big, expansive

 

neither do yellow jackets

they’re not that big, expansive

but they don’t belong indoors

 

especially next to the hospitality station adjacent to a grad student’s desk

 

I saw her and sprang into action

But not out of fear

I thought, “You don’t belong here!”

Her striped bodice was shocking against the white wall

Her thrumming dissonant to the mini fridge

 

there’s a potluck bowl in the closet

that’ll do just fine

I scooped her up and slid the lid expertly airtight

Muscle memory from summers past

containers filled with fireflies

drunk from all the shaking

glowing antagonistically hot

 

and then the fear crept in

how could she breathe?

will she go into a panic if I go back for flip flops?

 

When we reached the bottom of the staircase, I repurposed my backside as a doorstop

and had a quick think

will she sting me?

Why do I know more about the way she defends herself to the death but not whether she needs fresh air to stay alive I mean I’m sure she’s not happy in this Tupperware but bees don’t have lungs right I’ve never even wondered!

 

I released the lid, slipped deftly behind the door

and waited

for the gratifying moment when she would fly away and I could say I saved a bee

 

don’t hold your breath

with your lungs

that you definitely have

because that’s not what happened

 

she waddled around, confused by the texture of the welcome mat

swerving like a drunkard

and then froze

 

coulda should woulda put her on a leaf

so I turned on my heels and dashed back to the kitchen

unscrewed the juice and poured a capful

 

how do you feed a bee some juice?

I knew not

I tried pouring a little bit in front of her

She didn’t seem to get it so I poured a little more

The splash must’ve been a tidal wave from way down there

 

Let’s call her something because I’m tired of writing “she”

I asked the internet. They said Doug,

So, Doug the female bee started dipping her antennas in the juice

 

And I watched, mesmerized

For about 20 minutes

20 minutes is not a lot of minutes if you’re watching Netflix

20 minutes is quite a lot of minutes if you’re staring at a bee

But I didn’t notice the number of minutes

Because nature doesn’t have minutes

or seven days where it all evolved

it’s too big, expansive

 

Doug didn’t know that I was staring at her.

Doug isn’t named Doug.

 

I watched, conflicted

 

Was she using her little arms to scrub herself clean because I had coated her in a sticky, toxic trap?

Was she eating the sugar and resting up for the big takeoff?

Had I helped?

Hindered?

Why did I so desperately need to know?

 

I thought of all the environmental scientists and conservationists and indigenous peoples who’ve had this same dilemma

Or probably not all of them—that’s implausible

and frankly a bit conceited

But I didn’t feel alone in this agony

This beautiful creature deserved to live, and I had become entangled in its existence

so I did what you might’ve done

and stared some more

until 20 minutes passed and I accepted the non ending

 

I don’t know what happened to Doug not Doug

and I don’t know what will happen to our oceans

and none of us will get the opportunity to see that full trajectory

which, honestly, is a relief

 

It’s all just so big, expansive

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