Originally published June 17, 2013
This is a poem that owes its creation to many things, from basic nostalgia to chance dates and memories to other poems. Particularly this poem owes its genesis to Eric H., who planted the whole idea of becoming a beekeeper. He did so with a particular lake poem, I might add, so now it’s come full circle.
Death and rebirth is a rather timeless experience to hang a poem on, but I think there’s always strength in its expression to hang one more. It’s a pleasure to add this poem to this website and finally have it in a public forum among good friends and new friends. I hope this poem brings a certain pleasure to its readers as well, because, why else write it?
The lake is up at home on the first day of spring.
The thirsty trees stand knee-deep in the new water.
The yard is dark green under the brooding grey sky.
My mother at the house is cooking dinner and
writing a paper in her head for divinity school.
Father naps after work and dreams of sleep studies
and encephalographs. The cats are weaving paths
across the tile floors searching for a place to curl.
It’s time I’m sure for tomatoes and tornadoes,
wild raspberries, and rains lapping at the house sides,
for ant-killer, chlorine, and glimmering grill fire,
ancient stars all sinking in the heart of evening,
and quicksilver minnows spawning in the humid lake.
The bees flit from image to image drinking ink,
black, like the tires on my father’s old bicycle
that he rode with me past Victorian houses,
over the railroad tracks pointing home, to the pub
with its fries and beer and untapped farewells.
buzz like storms among the fields of my memories,
abdomens pulsing with lightning inspiration,
probosci stained bittersweet and other dark shades
of memory, their feet and wings bent to life’s work;
dancing across honeyed combs; flying for the sun.
When in winter I go to see, they are all gone.
The healthy hum unstrung from hexagonal comb;
bodies shriveled like silent sybils in the cold;
I bury them in the lake bed dry like summer
that withered the grass and flowers, and am come home.
It’s time now for another spring, and to drive east
into an early Texas sun and new-plowed land.
The truck throws gravel in the driveway of a man
with bees for sale; in the green grass a colony,
still asleep, gentle as lambs, is ready to be
driven home, grogged in smoke, and lodged in the old hive
by bare and loving hands.
They will act as if they
have always lived there, strangers adapting to chance,
words bent to rhythm, bee-spit alchemized to gold,
and fly like bottle-rockets in old July
to gather nectar, water, and the lay of the land,
as they have done every day since flowers were made.