Erinn Batykefer is a writer and a librarian. She earned her MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is the author of Allegheny, Monongahela (Red Hen Press) and The Artist's Library: A Field Guide (Coffee House Press). She is co-founder and editor of The Library as Incubator Project. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Visit her online at erinn-batykefer.squarespace.com and at eb-writes.tumbler.com.
Once our mother pinned gold bumblebees
into the ruched hives of our bodices
and whispered to us: physics says the bumblebee
should not be able to fly, but it does,
and when we waded through the orchard’s
fallen-apple mush and the sugar-crazed bees
fanned their wings on our ankles,
we were fascinated; we did not shriek
or run. Years later, I found my pin and heard again,
in my sister’s missing voice, the story of a bee’s
impossible flight—its ungainly thorax and abdomen
somehow held aloft on frantic wings—
and saw how the physicists got it wrong: they only
measured half the bee. Flight is like a limb unreeled
over clover and vetch, each lone bumblebee
a fragment of the white box humming in a field.
In the orchard, once, we hovered in white
bee-pinned dresses, halved, one thing in two:
my cruel brain like a stinger, and in her chest our heart.
With what I’m made of, I should not love. But I do.