? SLAB | Sound & Literary Art Book

Issue 1

Elizabeth R. Curry Contest Winners

Paula Lambert


—for Bessie and Doug

A beekeeper, gone blind, she could smell disease
and the Queen. The woodworker, a bit arthritic,

learned about bees from her, every sting a cure.
When she died, he crafted a box for her ashes

and was asked to execute her will. She'd left money
in books, thousands of dollars between pages he blew

with an air hose, the compressor thumping the floor.
He thought of her often as he handled the bees and

one day, pulling a comb from a hive and trembling,
he thought of an uncle he used to bring to the doctor—

he'd sat next to him as the doctor explained and
the old man shook. The woodworker's tremor is new,

and is not fear. The bees are calm, but he's aware
of the smell she taught him: it is not the Queen.