Drinking: Diet Dr. Pepper
Farm girls take pride in slivers and dirt.
In hot blistered palms.
In the ability to run barefoot
down a long gravel drive
without wincing once,
callouses hardened like leather,
borne like beauty marks.
Each summer when the white clover bloomed,
the bobblehead flowers
swarming the backyard with sweetness,
I greeted the season by stripping off shoes,
leaving them lay where they fell
Neither heat nor humidity
nor mosquitoes could detract
from the sweaty joy of long yellow days
unbroken by school bells
unmarred by the frantic buzz
of city girls applying lip gloss and
Stings were inevitable.
Honey bees working the clover for
nectar were often surprised by the crush
of my wild naked foot. Whether
offended or frightened, a stinger
was the unanimous solution.
But farm girls take pride in pain.
Feeling the prick, I’d drop to the ground
and pull up a sole for inspection.
With a dull grubby fingernail doubling
as blade, I’d scrape the venom sac free,
just like Dad taught me. Then I’d hunt
for the warrior bee, curled and dying alone
in the grass beneath the clothesline,
too far from her queen for comfort.
Do bees dream of honey when they fade?
I’m still curious. And though I didn’t want
the last thing she saw to be the face
of the enemy, unfelled by the strike
that gutted her, I’d whisper a question
unintelligible to insect ears. “But aren’t you glad
you were never a drone?”
-Lo, who finds it painful to post a poem that needs polishing.