The Bees

By Rick Viar

My sister says I greeted the swarm
along the backyard slope, crawling, fat mouth slack,
sodden Pampers saggy with supplication.
Evidently, she scooped me up while they chased us
through our father’s lavender azaleas
where he dropped his shears and smashed yellow
jackets against my skin, yanking off the diaper
and waving it around his head like a lasso.
We won’t get spanked again until winter.
Everyone watches my sister declaim
the tragic tale at family gatherings for decades
as if she’s Dame Judi Dench. They love her
nuanced performance, the lively hand gestures
and operatic voice, how she tousles my hair
before her triumphant finale: I got stung
on my mouth, but he got stung in his asshole!
I’m always grateful Dad isn’t here to witness
this, or my marriage, or my career,
or my incompetent gardening, the limp cosmos.
I can’t believe you, a cousin smiles, shaking his head.
Me neither, I reply. I don’t even know what I did.

Rick Viar‘s poetry has appeared in Roanoke Review, The Sandy River Review, Rumble Fish Quarterly, Naugatuck River Review, The American Journal of Poetry, and Litbreak. He lives in Virginia.

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