My mother collected the honey bees
carefully, between cracked and earth stained
thumb and forefinger, open to all
the broken wings and detached abdomens;
the barbed stings that never stung her.
She sewed little cloth pouches from old socks
and torn jackets, the fraying dust rags
under the sink, (the ones that she had
saved for her heart shaped rug rags, for repairs)
and looped in the neat running stitches,
the small elasticated drawstrings.
Each pocket was stitched for the honey bees,
each body reverentially placed in,
and she hung them then, quietly and discreetly
by the tightly drawn drawstrings just
slightly above each door, beside every window;
the old, the forgotten security.
At night all the bees would start buzzing,
and their honey would drip down the walls.
In the mornings I would steel myself to untangle
the knotted drawstrings, to peer
at the little shrinking ash bodies,
and my tongue would taste sweet.
But all of that was years ago,
and I read somewhere recently;
that the bee does not push the sting in
but rather, it is drawn in reluctantly,
by its barbed sides.