Keeping Bees Since the Eruption
Since you found the burst of fireweed
where the scorched bear plied the chomping brook,
saw crimson blooms squeeze through rent cedar,
told the ladies there are flowers
tasseling for the rest of their lives,
bore them up St. Helens’ spine,
faced their doors toward morning sun
where guard bees wing the gray mist fleeing,
felt the singe of venom in your veins, imagined
fresh comb full-capped, plugged with honey,
interred the dead in ash, and set
her white mansions where earth fell apart—
you can wait with them for the dawn.
Since you were stung in the night,
each sting union and requiem—
you feel the earth’s spin,
understand the dance of bees.
You sense in every Apis mellifera
renewal and matriarch,
and when you push your way
through cheek-high flowers, the bees,
a galaxy of copper stars with frail wings,
the swarm is ether, zuzzing a new skyline.
“Keeping Bees Since the Eruption” is reprinted from North American Review.
D.C. Miller stumbles up to alpine country regularly, guides ocean kayakers to the B.C. coast, and sorely tries to avoid the ER, from close encounters with the teeth of his Great Pyrenees dog. Although his commercial beekeeping days are over, he continues to urge small females to fly into his heirloom apples to lick flowers. When not writing, you can find him tethered to “Barkley”, dragged to new heights in the Columbia Gorge & North Cascades. He lives in White Salmon.