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.