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
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?
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