“Bees” – Rachel Rose
The Westender, our community paper,
which comes out every Thursday and
has done so for years, and which you
can pick up throughout the week, free,
on street corners in its assigned boxes,
has only recently started a new section
showcasing local poets, not to mention,
you’ll be impressed
here’s the first instalment
The farmer asked me to host a hive
and I said yes thinking honey,
without the sting, thinking
do your small
part and let the bees do theirs.
The hive was a box of many rooms
hot with life.
It throbbed under its tin roof.
All summer their flight path
hung its line of light across the deck.
Those gold cells swam to the door
of the hive, dusted with lust from blossom.
If a wasp dared come, they were ready
to kamikaze down, force the intruder out
in a buzz-tussle to the death. I crouched.
I watched the stinger torn from the bee’s body
trailing cream. Even in death, bees are never lonely.
The hive is myriad.
The hive is more than the bees.
Sometimes I stood close to vibrate with them,
drone of sun, pleasure of reaching beyond the limited
human. O stamen, pistil, I let them tangle in my hair
I hung up their flight path. Then came the virus,
and then the wasps. There was no keeping them out.
I crushed a few invaders, before I stopped,
stupid human, helpless as any God
before the laws of relativity.
The farmer and I could barely look at each other
and the leaves fell and brought winter.
But can we try again? I begged, like a woman
who wakes to a bed of blood, can we try again?
The serious farmer said, Of course. The struggle
is all that keeps me here, in this plague time
where bees drop, the hive is cold, a few hornets
drift, a virus drifts, pesticides drift over lawns
lush as death, fields of strawberries so poisoned
and perfect one bite brings the sleep
of a hundred years. Can we try again?
psst: Pat would’ve liked this