The Day My Husband Stood in the Spring Sun – Ellen Austin-Li

I regret that I spent most of our years
together—over twenty-five—keeping score
on a chalkboard, carefully recording each error
he’s ever made. He earned the most marks
when he raged unfairly against our son—
& I tallied with a heavy hand the cold
criticisms of my body. Callous, cruel.
I knew as soon as the page filled, I’d be gone.

Past mistakes shifted that day I saw him
knee-deep in the ivy, looking for the queen.
He’d abandoned the smoker used to stun
the bees. As they crawled on his bare arms
and he lifted both hands, alive with wings,
I felt a slow tenderness spread between us.

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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