learning the difference

One day I killed a carpenter bee that was crawling on the driveway.
It was crawling and I squished it with my shoe. Mom told me
carpenters weren’t dangerous, not like the bee who stung my
hand last summer.

I tried to save the bee, blew on it, gave it water drops
in case he was thirsty. I hadn’t known the carpenter bee
wasn’t going to hurt me. I put him on the only branch of our
crabapple tree that I could reach. A nice place in the shade.

After a few minutes two other carpenter bees
came looking for the one. They hovered in the air
looking at it. I didn’t know bees could be so still
like that.

I put my hand out. Cupped the two carpenter bees
in my palm so they wouldn’t have to work so hard
to look. I hoped they’d sting me. I think
it would have helped with the feeling in my stomach.

I stood there with the bees in my hand until it was
dark and the lightning bugs came out. My arm
felt so heavy. The two bees finally flew
away. Then, I put the broken one in my pocket.
I didn’t want any more of them to know what I’d done.

I keep the carpenter in my jewelry box next to my bed. I slip my bee
under my pillow every night. I think if I can only wish hard enough
the bee will fly away by morning.

By Tori Thurmond

Tori Thurmond earned her B.A. in English Writing at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. Her work has been published in Nashville Poet’s Quarterly, and her collection, Equinox, was selected as best in the section at a local conference. She will be attending Eastern Washington University’s MFA poetry program in the Fall of 2020.