Shadow Puppet – Ellen Austin-Li

It seems I now see symbols
scattered everywhere. Like the night
my husband called me over
to look out the second-floor window
to the courtyard below, where
we could see our hive boxes
stacked in the ivy bed, illuminated
by the Harvest Moon. There, the light
on the outside of our house and the copper bee
ornament staked in front of the tower
cast a shadow puppet of a giant honeybee.
Hundreds of bees clustered in a slow dance
inside the shadow-shape, each one bound together
in a display of unity I’ll not soon forget.

Ellen Austin-Li’s work has appeared in Artemis, Thimble Literary Magazine, The Maine Review, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Rust + Moth, and other places. A Best of the Net nominee, she’s published two chapbooks with Finishing Line Press: Firefly and Lockdown: Scenes From Early in the Pandemic. She earned an MFA in Poetry at the Solstice Low-Residency Program. Ellen lives with her beekeeper husband in a newly empty nest, overrun with books, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Find her work @

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