from Bee Suit: Spring Chores with Grandfather

The same hyper-attenuated rage that is in him

is in me. That residue of anger, People take notice,

the pastor says. Of every compulsion, the bees’

curses are too deep for groans. They rise slowly,

disinterestedly, as being outside of our being.

I don’t know what you expected, my grandfather says.

Our estrangement is profound—mythic

but realized, familiar but somehow exotic.

I know who I am, he says. As if I didn’t know.

He says I show remarkable promise. You are possessed of

that rare combination—good teaching and luck.

Other nights, he yells but I just make faces,

talking like I understand, real slow.


Having swarmed, thousands of bees settle,

suspended from a maidenhair tree in a gourd-like horn,

bulbous, but faintly decorous; They will raise a queen

and depart, he says. The bees are indispensable for

attending to their own needs, which, ironically, they teach.

We are capable, energetic students; Have you ever seen

anything so beautiful and lonesome, he asks?

He is trying a bright new plausible thing.

I might have said goodbye, I might have cried,

but more than his tears it’s my own tears I hate.

There, there, there, he says, speaking past me but lovingly

close—love in the craw of my throat and nowhere to go.

Later, we repair to the kitchen for a simple glass of water.


The bees suffocate the queen, fanning their incendiary

claims, applying a low-grade pressure until she burns

from inside: a picture of domestic confinement

and sweet excess both. Something about her crosstemperedness

made them hateful,

she, who hated for no reason they could understand.

The bees had simply outgrown their need of love.

If I could, I would write in big red letters on the hive:

No Love Lost Here. It is the clearest expression I know.

Still, even here, she managed to find storerooms

for their impoverished care; like a send-up,

balled tightly in a fist, she danced

with everybody and nobody.


I only seem to be growing more vigorous

as a child that does not especially know

better presides over the faintest touch:

the side-note to pleasure—pure distraction—flares,

my lips pulse, throbbing, medicinally. The bees are preserved

as body conduces to honey, as honey to flesh. Together,

we perceive a surfeit of questions growing between

us: biggest taker? most unselfish? I forgive

the bees’ exaggerated sense of self, they ignore

my reticence. We are nearly translucent

from light coming in, an inordinate smoothness

appears then disappears

at my wrists. We’re tired and extravagant.

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