In your story of bees,
they slowly fill an outside wall—
three stud-spaces wide, two storeys high—
in the front bay of your old farmhouse.
You first try all the poisons,
even your pickup set
to run all day, its exhaust
piped into a hole in the wall—
while you go away, hoping the fumes
will kill them. But no.
So on a winter’s icy morning
you pull the siding off
and scrape out, storey by tall storey,
thick clots of comb and honey,
clumps of stiff, chilled bees.
They had to go. No question.
But tell me again, please,
how you stood inside and breathed—
in summer’s reckless heat—
the fragrance of their work,
wild perfume of wax and flower.
Say again how you pressed your ear
tight to the wall, heard the house humming,
felt its blur of countless wings,
a fine, even tremble.
— Paulann Petersen, 1998 (born in Portland, 1942)
Oregon’s sixth Poet Laureate (serving two terms: 2010 – 2012 and 2012-2014)
by Kirah Van Sickle
Mixed media and collage on paper