Two Queens – Ellen Austin-Li

—I am the spent Queen, this crown tarnishing.
I’m aware you prepare to replace me.
You see, I sense royal jelly stirring
in the nearby cell, some lowly bee
soaking in the bath, her body jeweled
as she receives. How quickly I’m deposed.
Since I can no longer produce a brood,
my body shrivels to nothing. Disposed.

—I am the Virgin Queen, atremble, a rose
soon to take her place, the risen star
above the old crone. I’m worshiped by drones,
perfumed by this new Spring’s nectar.
I don’t dwell on season’s end. I take wing,
hover above the hive. I feel no sting.

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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