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Yellow Jackets

I was in awe of the way they lived in both
the ground and air, both digging and flying, both
demon and angel. I was ready to kill them
with gasoline when I noticed my neighbor's burning
eyes across the street. I could tell from the way
he was looking at the can that he wanted them dead
for no other reason than wanting them dead.
I put down the can and rose to the height
of the just cut grass, high enough to see
the sills of heaven, yet not so high to keep
from burning with a few unnatural questions.
"Have you ever got down on your knees and listened
to the buzz of your own grief, then seen your face
in another face as different from yours as a yellow
jacket? Have you ever swelled with a tiny sting
then feared for your life?" I hit the ground with dangerous
force when he turned away, so high was that inch
to which I had risen. The bees awoke from the thud
of my weight and stormed from their hole in quick
pursuit. I fled like a fool into the street and then
his yard with a dozen stings on my legs and arms,
but oh what pleasure I took in causing him envy.

This article originally ran in the June 7, 2004, issue of the magazine.