The hive whines in the oak above the pool,
A rotted enclave yet a natural home
For these small gatherers. First light, they
Some favoring alyssum, others mums,
A few charmed by an open Pepsi can
Left near a lawn chair by my tanning daughter.
Toward noon, in quiet shallows, I see them
Slowing, circling. freighted with heat and
Some, visibly spent, totter to water's edge
And tumble in, wings crying urgent signals—
Two, three, at a time I fish them from
Bright pulsing circles of would-be demise.
They do me no harm for by now they know
The clumsy hulk attending them is friendly;
They wait to be redeemed, set on the deck,
Dazed, upright and happy for another day.
And yet they drop in numbers far too great
To save them all. The dying, without further
Protest, wait numb and motionless to pass
Back into nature. Such is an aging fancy,
Guileless enough to solemnize these passings.
The bee man wants the hive; he plans at dusk
To call on the queen—get her take on moving
To solid, more considered royal turf.
From Firebreaks, Salmon Run
Press, © 1999.
Reprinted by permission of the author.