after Laura Jean Henebry

All the plants are dying.
Or, not quite all, but at least most.
I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, so I don’t know how to fix it. I apologize
to the shriveled leaf, the drooping stem, the waterlogged, or bone-dry soil. Who am I
to know a living thing’s needs? The wind beating the walls makes me feel like I’m in a lighthouse.
But not in a good way. I went to sleep feeling miles above the ground, right on the precipice
of falling. I woke feeling submerged, at risk of drowning. It isn’t as serious as all that,
except when it is. My body seems to be testing how far it can push me before we both
collapse under the strain. I almost don’t mind.
It’s beginning to look like a way out of this inescapable life.
I apologize to the growing constellation of injection-site scars on my stomach.
The irritated skin and could-be infection beneath the protective seal wrapping my arm.
The unkind words I hold beneath my tongue when I look at this medical marvel
of a body I’m carrying. I’m full of apologies and they’re never enough.
Winter is gun-shy and I’m beginning to mind. The floor is covered in pine
that I refuse to sweep. The counters are ringed with coffee-spill halos. I fight to get out of bed
just to sit in front of the window, unmoving, for the next two hours. It doesn’t help
until it does. And then it doesn’t again.
I can’t listen to sound without being reminded of the gnawing emptiness growing within me.
So I lay in silence instead, let memories bury me in a warming comfort that will soon turn stifling.
Let my body remind itself to panic at the lack of touch.
You know, I was so hopeful when I first brought them home.
Excited at the prospect of tending life. Encouraging something to grow. To thrive. To bloom.
Only one has died but the rest are so close I can’t bear to look. It feels too forthright to say they’re
on the verge of death. So I won’t.

BEE LB is an array of letters, bound to impulse; a writer creating delicate connections. They have called any number of places home; currently, a single yellow wall in Michigan. They have been published in Revolute Lit, After the Pause, and Roanoke Review, among others. They are the 2022 winner of FOLIOs Editor’s Prize for Poetry as well as the Bea Gonzalez Prize for Poetry. Their portfolio can be found online at