Plight of the Bumblebee

How can a bumblebee
story bring such joy?
She’s round.
A French engineer
calculated she couldn’t fly.
She flies.
She spends the winter alone.
It’s cold.
She’s hungry when it ends.
Few flowers are blooming.
She is selfless.
The food goes to her eggs
and she has work to do.
She finds fur, feathers, grass.
She makes a hollow ball.
Inside the ball she makes
a wax drinking vessel,
a tiny pot for nectar.
The heart swells to think of it.
She shakes pollen from
flowers with a buzz.
She makes a ball of pollen
to lay her 16 eggs in.
She has a brood patch
on her belly and
sits on her eggs
like a little bird on a nest.
She shivers to warm the eggs.
If she leaves for too long
they will die,
but if she doesn’t get nectar
she will die.
She may need to visit
6000 flowers a day.
She is driven.
It is a story of life on the edge
If her first children make it
she can rest
and have a few more.
Only the fattest will get
through the next winter.
She is worn out
and her older children
are worn out.
They die.
Give her flowers.
Give her flowers.
-Poem by Jill Carpenter

I have worked as a science writer, college instructor, and bookseller. My writing appears in Creative Nonfiction, ISLE, Utah English Journal, Exquisite Corpse, many others. My honors include notable in Best American Essays, Pushcart nomination, COPUS shortlist, Hackney Award.

-Photograph by Kimberly Butters