Green Hills Literary Lantern

 

Keeping

 

Up from our neighbor’s yellow-flowered broccoli

            foragers vault the field’s rim of oaks and ferry nectar,

their bee baskets pollen-swollen. Others lug back

            dust of golden rod, cosmos, New England

asters to our hives, two bee nations side by side

            on this hill sloped to the sun’s early rise.

They hang and waver before their black door as if

            from air something more must be gathered.

 

Today, a bee cloud, the swarm’s molten purpose, balls

            on pine trunk or limb, on apple tree. Its dense hum.

Scouts like thoughts fly off toward new theories

            of home. This new sickness rusts out bee-knowing,

the geared play of gene, scent, dance. Infected

            castaways sail beyond a colony’s call into what

might seem, briefly, a freedom.

            Alone with her eggs, the queen untidy now and starving.

 

We once had a barn greater than its house.

            In and out the vast doors air breathed.

Before us, bees had battened in its knotted side

            their buttery comb. Their summer thrummed through

the wood. Winters were about shivering.

            We shored up floors, stripped out rot,

and left the bee hum hidden like the bone of a saint

            or a secret spring, its violent clear water.

 

 

 

Susannah Lawrence lives in the rocky part of CT—not great for farming, good for trees and birds— and works on habitat preservation for the Norfolk Land Trust. She recently received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts.