Three Poems by Tori Thurmond

Learning the difference

One day I killed a carpenter bee that was crawling on the driveway.
It was crawling and I squished it with my shoe. Mom told me
carpenters weren’t dangerous, not like the bee who stung my
hand last summer.

I tried to save the bee, blew on it, gave it water drops
in case he was thirsty. I hadn’t known the carpenter bee
wasn’t going to hurt me. I put him on the only branch of our
crabapple tree that I could reach. A nice place in the shade.

After a few minutes two other carpenter bees
came looking for the one. They hovered in the air
looking at it. I didn’t know bees could be so still
like that.

I put my hand out. Cupped the two carpenter bees
in my palm so they wouldn’t have to work so hard
to look. I hoped they’d sting me. I think
it would have helped with the feeling in my stomach.

I stood there with the bees in my hand until it was
dark and the lightning bugs came out. My arm
felt so heavy. The two bees finally flew away.
Then, I put the broken one in my pocket.
I didn’t want any more of them to know what I’d done.

I keep the carpenter in my jewelry box next to my bed. I slip my bee
under my pillow every night. I think if I wish hard enough
the bee will fly away by morning.

Centennial Park: Nashville, TN 2020

we were in my bed kissing and
falling asleep but I woke up in

a park in the middle was a pond
a bush of flowers floating by the bank

you were controlling the floating bush
the bush was your hair

the flowers were shiny hair clips you
picked up at the store last week

I couldn’t see your face but
I could tell it was you because of

the shiny clips I smiled and yelled your name
instead of answering you began to sink

your flowers peeling away from your hair
bobbing among the ripples

I felt sorry you did that
sorry you felt you had to sink
I would have bought some bread or at least another bottle of wine

until now I've only read poems about
the end of the world and no one wrote
about the toilet paper running out
I thought it would be more
dramatic more like a movie but
this feels slow

I heard somewhere that when you cook
a lobster (or maybe a frog) you put it in a
pot of cold water then turn
on the stove the temperature
will rise slowly enough that the lobster-frog won't
realize you're killing it until it's already dead

until now I thought the end would be noisier
gunshots fire
but I hear birds and the wind chimes
my parents gave me maybe
this is how it ends

I thought it would be more romantic
lovers heating canned vegetables by
a fire at least we'd have each other
I still have running water and my microwave
still works I'm in the bedroom
you're in the living room
I pick up yoga
and needle point go on walks

everyone started walking again in
circles around our houses looking
for something to fix something
to break so it can be fixed
something else
to think about other than lobsters

About the Author

Tori Thurmond is an MFA candidate at Eastern Washington University. She originates from Nashville, Tennessee. Her work has previously been published in Nashville Poet’s Quarterly and Tiny Seed Journal and has been accepted to several national conferences across the US. Her reading from Equinox, her working collection, won best in its section at the Student Scholars Symposium’s 2019 conference. Thurmond has plans to pursue a career teaching creative writing at the university level once she earns her MFA.

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