Published in Mid-American Review, v. XXV, no. 1, Fall 2004, 25th Anniversary Issue.
What tongue or touch could last
a lazy four hours, spinning on the skin
the way a fever might? Oh subtle heat.
Oh rash brought to crest. I sat next
to you, and from your arm, I felt
a radiance, a warm tune rising
from your blood. But no, it is the bee
still secreting its fervor-haze, sting
which sticks, toxin which gums
each tip of hair, abandoned
along with abdomen, nerve ganglion,
muscles—all these parts the bee
gives up from its body. And why?
Only to make more hurt, as I do,
waiting for the lover to love me first.
Everything’s a sign or nothing is.
The sting works, bottomless, pulsing
with grooves. Valve and piston
pump venom from sac. Oh barb.
Oh anchor of traction: insist,
then finish. The wound grows
large. The dead bee still threads
poison which must be sucked,
otherwise it stays. Do you know
what I would say to you?