Formal Apology to the Bees I Caught in Jars as a Girl Thinking they Could Form their Own Glass Hive, or, Elegy for South Carolinian Honey Bees
Not measly, not mere honey. In millions, we killed them.
Clearly I was queen bee. To a child who wants to make honey
her marrow, it’s business. Sure, the container is narrow
but she can put her hand in and if a snow globe holds snow….
But the hive doesn’t grow and the specimens bounce
themselves off the glass sides with vim and buzz, vim and then
their buzz grows boozy, bumbles, fumbling, unbusying
in their airless bubble and, upon her waking from bed, quite
quiet, quite dead. But she didn’t know. Just like we didn’t
know, but somehow we knew, and now looking at stock photos
of stockpiles of paper-skinned kernels, candied husks of
a macabre black Baby’s Breath, I compose my apologies to Genus Apis at the apex of their death. No need to find the queen
amongst the bodies. They’re all the same now: a rubbery waspy
rubble, all drones. It’s mayhem when a child tries to curate
the honeycomb with a magic wand: comes a kerfuffle of tiny alien
ears in the baffled silence of the apiary. In stasis, each body
shrinks into a suckless curl, its stinger feathers, the yellow buffs
into a burnt umber, cross-pollinating the brown of the dark
ground with permanent dive-bombed indefinite slumber. No
wonder it’s just one circumstance in the enterprise of
insecticide and chance. South Carolina is a child’s jar, tightening
the lid. I behold the reprise of my makeshift glass hives
and it becomes my business. Sometimes the latest buzzword blinds
like coming inside the house after being in the sun for hours.
Everything on the inside seems so man-made, grey, grave, and dim.
The Forecast is Different if and When You Squint
The weather prediction is part Turner painting
with cocked eyes into the barrel of near-sun,
near-storm. The summation of restlessness
is the illusion of stillness when you squinch at still waters,
when you squint onto calm waters and the calmness
is even calmer—each wave a waiver of itself, as they say—
and the sails quite usurp the boat. The mast’s upper-bloat
boasts a tail above the horizon, boasts a driving force
where the lower-bulk blurs with the tumult,
and only the air moves forward in a bent sense.
If we’re at the right here-point, we’ll blend with
the float which is everywhere, which is nowhere,
which is always here, harkening its havoc just so. Just so—so much so—I don’t even notice.
Rhythmless as a ribbon, another boat in the distance
ripples the way the rookery erases the white sky
or even the way a single nest can seem a dead weight in a silhouette
of slim, bare branches, diagonal lance-and-lacework,
bird after bird after bird, unabashed black endemic dots.
What undulates in the blankness is the ding-a-ling
of dissonance, of distraction like when I look out
the cabin window to see the weather,
and I see the weather is part moth caught in cobweb
caught in wind caught in this window.
So when the seagulls impart their wings to the picture
my squint is impaired and I see straight into the despair
of dead waters, as they say, and I endeavor for the adrenaline
of cloudburst, its knife-glint glare, a tempest or unmooned
night, or the moth in the window’s newfound sense of flight,
enjambed gem of the abandoned web (spider long since dead).
The quiet repetition catches me like a nebula, an annihilation.
The horizon line is humdrumed with haze and scumbles.
But such are my humble observations, bathed in a daze,
a dazzle of sameness. There’s no definite nonpareil.
Only the sense of peril. The fog meshes with
the ocean’s purples and makes a smoke etch. Absent
are the goldens mixed with grey to give feeling,
to give depth. All is slated, nondescript with hues of cyan.
The waves keep saying things I think I’ve heard before,
And so I go on. And so I go back and forth.
The Fig is a Flower Turned Inward, It’s
Umbilical to hide the bloom, elemental.
In a new bulb, in a new womb, pulp
and flower vying, lying together. Inlaid
ichor, an elixir of viscous weave, vicious
heave and ho, to-fro, supple rubble,
a tether of petal through flesh, injury
synergy. The presence inside quelled jelled
overjoyed, an ornament, a to-be-torn
ligament, in-orbed, coiled, loyal in tangle,
tendrils held captive, a rapport with the core
or a clot, impetuous, blotched, intoxicated
cascade in stasis, bloodletting if you
would let it, let it embellish a bowl with
the vein’s infructescence, this relishing
of arranged marriage and eraser, merging
meddling, embezzling air from the cloth,
air from the stalk, not an error, this ingrown
underblown ambrosiac implosion, purged
of bouquet, of bulk, a solitary bushel, island,
self-world, the whirl is kindling idle, as yet
unconsumed. Consummated. The tension,
the conjugality is eloping, jangled, congealed.
Bonding, bound. Unbitten, embittered,
growing bittersweet while sweetening,
swelling, cellular-seeming in split-screen as if
a molecular thrall was sprawled for observation,
microscopic, optics global yet antics hand-
held, yielding a spindle swollen inward
spinning out, a blossom pout lurking, imperfect
pink, ruddy-pink, pink-gut-yellow, the clutter
perfecting, chambering, soto voce, under-
water, above ground. Granular. At rest like
a razor, threat still arresting, the rife ripening,
push pull, delicious dizzying standstill, still
luring, the false fruit awaits opening, impaling,
knifing, an unatoned tasting, an apt exit from
the void, ravishing, blur, breath. The unconscious
concealed stock is immured haplessly,
sheathed in its hibernacula, its husk:
when uncut, when cut, I’m conscious that
the broth cancels the body, the body
cancels the broth, what then have I captured?
Kristina Martino is a poet and visual artist. Her poems have or will appear in BOAAT, Third Coast, Bennington Review, Bateau, Best New Poets, and elsewhere. She is a forthcoming Wolff Cottage Writer-in-Residence at the Fairhope Center for the Writing Arts.