Autumn Sky Poetry . . . Number 17 . . .


     by Anna Evans

The bees are disappearing.

In England beekeeping is at risk

of replacing the national pastime.

Meanwhile, what some Americans call bees

are often wasps, a waste

of language sharp as a bee sting—

so keen it can only be perfect once.

I was stung by a wasp as a child,

stuck at the top of a corkscrew slide

behind a boy too scared to go down.

His screams paralyzed my screams.

Sometimes the thing you can see

that's wrong, is not what's most wrong.

Why do we call wasps bees?

Because color is dangerously

over-important to the species

homo sapiens. Seeing the same stripes

we miss the slender waist, the sleekness—

wasps and bees are only of the same

order, Hymenoptera. My elbow,

when I finally reached the ground,

had swollen to the exact size of a baseball,

a sport I knew nothing of then.

Nor could I have defined "allergic."

Despite zero bee stings

and the puzzling absence of bees,

I always feared wasps and bees equally,

wrongly. Bees are not predators;

wasps are fitter for this imprecise world

from which gentleness fades, unnoticed.

Anna Evans’ poems have appeared in the Harvard Review, Atlanta Review, Rattle, and 32 Poems. She received her MFA from Bennington College and is the editor of The Raintown Review. Her chapbooks Swimming and Selected Sonnets are available from Maverick Duck Press.

© 2010 Anna Evans