This Is Not a Political Poem                                                                              —Jennifer Atkinson

The carpenter bees are gnawing the house. It’s hard to mind. Hard to believe they’ll make much progress, though last year, it’s true, they hollowed out the porch rail. If we sit close enough, we can hear them chewing.

It’s the hollowness they want, not the wood. They want an emptiness to fill. Through sheer persistence, they turn something to nothing. It’s hard to want to stop them.

The important bees are hidden in work. The ones we see—their black patent leather bodies gleam in the sun—are probably guarding the ones inside. We wonder who decides which bees will gleam and which will bore?

The guards wobble drunkenly as they fly. If we sit still, they approach and hover nearby, droning their two notes just out of sight, barely whirring the air. Their compound eyes surveil us, while the others in patience—do they think we don’t know?—honeycomb our house with their emptiness.



Jennifer Atkinson headshot.jpg

Jennifer Atkinson is the author of five books of poetry. The most recent one, The Thinking Eye, was published by ParlorPress/Free Verse Editions in 2016. Individual poems have appeared in journals including Field, Image, Witness, Poecology, Terrain, The Missouri Review, and Cincinnati Review. She teaches in the MFA and BFA programs at George Mason University in Virginia.

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