On being stung by a bee on the way to Debre Berhan Selassie Church

which was odd really
because this was where Sudanese dervishes
intent on destroying Gondar’s churches,
and this their last one,
brandished swords, shouted Allah Akbar.
They had not counted on the bees
who knew the value of surprise
and appeared from nowhere.
Inside, 144 small brown-eyed angels
packed into neat rows across the ceiling
breathed thanks.

Today women enter softly
heads covered by white shawls,
sit below the child-angels
wait for the midday service,
the bees forgotten.

Marjory Woodfield is a teacher and writer. She has returned to New Zealand after living in Saudi Arabia. Her work has been published by the BBC, Nowhere, Takahē, Flash Frontier and Raven Chronicles. She is a Bath Ad Hoc Fiction winner and was long listed for the Alpine Fellowship (Venice). Her writing inspiration often derives from travel within and around Saudi Arabia.

See more of her work in 6.3 here.