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Erinn Batykefer

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 and at

Two Bees

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.

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