Two Poemsby Kelle Groom
MEETING THE BEEKEEPER
He says yes, it’s sixty thousand
bees in one hive, but think of it as
one cell, like a cell in your body.
Like a man turned to stone
is one, and our smaller town
moving in the direction of the sun.
Paralyzed in an accident,
he’d stung his arm over and over,
a bee between his fingers
like an electric cotton ball,
a smarting peach, and the nerve
re-grew—he traced it, a red line
on a map. This summer, the bees
are drinking andromeda, honey bells—
three hives in our backyard.
Instead of talking, they dance:
the bee dance, wangle dance.
Kept inside a house, the respiration
of the bees gets heavier than air, a fire
extinguisher. Honey from gallberry
and palmetto is labeled wild because
no one wants to eat a jar of gall.
He sweeps his hands on the floor
of air below his heart
to show me how to calm down
because if bees sense alarm,
they put it out like a fire.
I forgot how to steer
under the awning of arms,
the church empty
like the old hotel in the rain.
Our van had died
on the street in sheets pouring
so hard we couldn’t see
anything except the height
to our right, a door. Luckily,
the hotel was open in the off
season and cheap though it felt
like a castle faded with flowers
in the carpet and walls, white
tub clawing the floor. On the bed,
my boyfriend plucked my eyebrows
for me, a man who would do
anything, like a slave almost,
but I thought this was love,
that I would do the same
when someone called my name,
the hallways mirrored
in gold, another country
spired and gilt.
We ate sandwiches on top
of an office building, a church
below, and when I circled it,
a broken Christ stood, one arm missing.
The last time I was in church,
my son had died,
people gave him flowers,
the racketing was inside, birds
flying through the door
of my body, beating
to get out. But in this church without
people it’s quiet enough
to hear the grain of wood,
like when I was a child
and let the crosses and stars,
the moons and people of the door
put me to sleep in a forest
steadied me, as if someone
had reached out, the muscle
in his arm
in the palm of my hand,
so that I could get out
of the boat for a moment
while it took my son away.