You make me want to stick my hands
into a bowl of dead bees, splash them on my face
like the time I washed myself in the lake,
and my skin turned red and raw.
These words are insects on the page,
their black legs itch and wiggle within
the constraints of bright white.
Sometimes when I need you the most,
my fingertips brush against paper,
and a word peels itself off, crawls
under a nail. I watch it writhe up
my forearm. My pen moves with its motion.
You’ve kept my mom from dying,
but I’ve seen a sting transform her
into a woman five times her size,
a big black ant, swollen queen.
You know my mother never wrote,
but she wanted to. Instead you gave
the gift of itching to me,
and I want to itch, I want to scratch,
like I can’t help but pick
at the tiniest wound, tattoo
my whole body with bugs.
I’ve run fingers through my hair
only to pull out a bumble bee.
This is when you come, take
my stinging hand and force its pen to page,
and this is what I need,
even when it hurts, even when I bleed.
Photo by Kelcey Parker, Poems.