Today was a day of sun.
The sorrow was on me, bigger than the shadow of a thunderhead, but I wasn’t hunkering down for it. Sometimes when your heart’s being chased around your chest like a wild-thing, it requires pure, unnecessary action.
It’s always the same manner of pain, and it takes all these iterations, blasts itself on different faces through the last decade. Always him, always her. Always wanting, and being forced to stand still. To push and shove and know that just as physics follows particular laws, the pendulum swings up and comes down again.
I cannot have what I want.
The fineness of trying to reject that premise is a funny thing. I know what David looked like aiming his stone at Goliath. The hope part puts the hurt on you.
Today, I drove through it.
Not away, through. Tears blinding me on the south country road, but traffic was spare, and it wasn’t necessary to stay in my lane every moment.
It’s peculiar. No, it’s sad, actually, the persistence of certain things- the right and proper consistency, certain manners, certain acts you fulfill even when it seems like the future is yawning at you like a big nothingness.
I persist. I persist, and with the strength of my sorrow push the pendulum higher and higher, forestalling the eventual fall.
I could bust this shit up if I kept driving, maybe.
I saved a bee.
That’s how people always tell it. It was fifty miles per hour or so, and the thing hit my windshield. I headed blind, deaf, dumb to the last place I went where I felt like something different. High up to Tidewater, the pinch inside so acute, there really were vision problems- actual function delays.
So it’s more accurate to say: The bee saved me.
It was the fuzzy kind, and I swear I felt a reverberation of its shock upon hitting a windshield at how-many-ever miles an hour when it was just flying along, doing its bee things.
It didn’t die. I was so surprised, surprised at my recognition of ‘a bee’, and all it meant in my nerdy article reading neuron pathways: Bees. Endangered, disappearing, literally the dying hope of the natural world. Bee.
Somehow, I don’t remember (I was shocked, or echo-shocked or something) part of its body ended up tucked under the bar of the windshield wiper, the way a thrill-seeker looks on an amusement park ride when they lower the safety bar across your lap.
The shoulder was narrow, but I leaned my body across the windshield to have a look at the little creature whose fate had become unexpectedly intertwined with the aimlessness of my journey.
One antenna gone for sure. Some sort of moisture where it had struggled up on the metal. Not good. I can’t imagine what sort of internal injuries would be sustained by a creature that tiny, hurtling into a huge object at that speed. My only hope was a vague memory of how hardy insects are purported to be. Ants can sustain incredible pressure, and lift things hundreds of times their body weight. Mosquitos survive attacks with rolled newspapers. It takes a spider longer to die of poisoning than your average dog.
Maybe a bee’s ability to survive impacts is superhuman, too.
I used a leaf to help it gain purchase on the wiper, and found myself crooning in a soft ,low voice that it would be okay, it would. You just can’t die- There are so many flowers.
The trouble, which freaked me the fuck out, is that something whitish green seemed to be oozing from the back portion of the bee. I got a little sick, imagining for a moment that it trailed it’s own viscera behind it in a long rope, an intestinal bride’s train. Then I decided that couldn’t be right. What probably happened was the bee released its stinger, maybe as an instinct upon impact, a blind response to the incredible crush of being knocked off its leisurely course.
What might have been coming out of the bee was venom.
I’m not a bee doctor. These are educated guesses, but the bees hind leg was working to free the stuff from its body, and, as I said, it was basically exiting from the place where the stinger ought to have been.
I found a paper-towel in my glovebox and lowered it down in hopes of putting the bee somewhere more beneficial to its future than a windshield. And he came right onto the towel, like he recognized the gesture.
In fact, though he didn’t fly, he started walking all over the towel, heading toward my fingers on the corner, like they were old friends of his. He buzzed. Once. A brief, friendly sound, but I’m anthropomorphizing, and also remembering, achingly, how my dad’s cat, Max, persisted in a rusty, troubled purr when we found him after he’d swallowed poison. The vet said it was stress induced. It’s hard to let go of a creature that is purring its little, fading heart out while you hold it; hard to understand a world where you’re required to do that.
I lowered the bee to the grass and walked away.
I know it’s selfish, but I’m grateful, cus I couldn’t stand to watch it die. In my head, maybe it lived. Maybe other bees came to it and knew what to do for it, or at least gave it the bee brand of company. I hope it didn’t just have a prolonged death out there in the grass. Maybe I did something bad with my ‘rescue’.
I don’t know.
You do the best you can. And that’s what brought me home again, that’s why I stopped crying. A little bee bomb, the friendliest of creatures crawled- maybe grateful, maybe agonizing,- in the palm of my hand.
I let the pendulum drop. Let’s see whose standing in the aftermath.
I’m just doin’ the best I can.