Thomas R. Smith


In a twenty-foot wilderness of weeds,
we caught honeybees. Wild prizes, they 
fretted inside wide-mouthed glass jars,
under screw-on lids jackknifed with slits.
Sprawling or kneeling, we’d sneak up on some
worker gleaning a dandelion or purple thistle
and clap it prisoner, often as not
beheading the host flower in the name of our
hunt. Stinging was a constant possibility,
if not by a barbed behind then by nettles’
poison or thistle’s daggers. Doggedly we’d
return, bactined and band-aided, to the game,
wonderful and risky, that bound us to
that tangled plot long into the summer
evening, determined not to go home
before the bees did. Sometimes it seemed
as though the weeds themselves held the sun
from setting. We kept a tight rein
on the earth, wound its green mane in our
fingers, took its green stain on our knees.
Even then we knew the complicated
pleasure of mixing danger and beauty,
the angry jewels we could capture
for a while, but which would drop, lusterless,
among clipped-off flowers if at the end
of the day we neglected to set the jar
in darkening grass, unscrew the lid, and run.