Those carpenter bees-
black screws, black bullets-
all summer they carved out the eaves
of our house, and I would listen to the larvae
hum through our cedar paneling
while their shavings collected like little piles
of my own guilt.

At night, while my wife was sleeping,
I would go out to their nests
with my flashlight and shine it
on the black bristles of the worker bees
guarding the entrance in their sleep.

One night, I took a stick and crushed one.

In the morning, its body lay
below the nest victoriously,
the chambers of its dreams
protected, the children in
the woodwork humming
a song I would never forget.

Chris Talley
CHRIS TALLEY is a writer living in North Carolina, with work forthcoming or recently appearing in Crazyhorse, Boulevard, and Atlantis.