Jessica Covil

Jessica Covil
is a PhD Candidate in English at Duke, pursuing graduate certificates in African & African American Studies and Gender, Sexuality, & Feminist Studies. Broadly, her poems explore family, sisterhood, trauma, hope, sex, and politics. Her work has appeared in SWWIM Every Day, What Rough Beast, Whale Road Review, Rise Up Review, The Maynard, Oye Drum, One Hand Clapping, and Survivor Lit. 

The Bee (What I’m Afraid of)

For no good reason, I am
so afraid of bees.
I don’t keep track of which ones sting,
but settle for a blanket fear.
I swear they can smell it—
the bees, I mean.
It being my fear—
the one like a blanket.
And they swarm, swarm
around me.
Usually just the one—
not the one that’s
like a blanket,
like my fear,
but the bees—
they usually swarm,
just one at a time, around me.

Sometimes they land on me—
though, not all at once.
Well, the landing is all at once—
all in one moment.
But the bees, I mean.
They usually swarm
just one at a time,
so it’s just the one landing on me.

And sometimes
after the landing,
they stay there, crawling—
just the one, which it always only is.
But they, or it
though, not the it that is
my fear,
which is like a blanket—
but it as in the just-the-one bee—
stays there, crawling on me,
for a moment after
swarming, swarming around me.

And I can’t stand it—
it being the bee and its
crawling on me,
even for just a moment.
I would almost rather it
sting me and go,
then just stay here crawling,
thinking about stinging me.

Sometimes, I think
I just need it to be over—
it being the bee, just the one,
and its swarming, swarming
all around me, and then crawling on me
for even just a moment after.

And that’s what I’m afraid of, I think—
that sometimes, I think
I just need it to be over.
And that—
the fear, I mean—
the one that’s like a blanket—
envelops me.
Swarming, swarming
all around me.
Like the bee.

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