These are big game bees. When I’m after something
sweet I want to make the most of it. Thousands of
miles from Nepal, I’m on the level
summer deck behind my house. It’s happy hour. I’m
wearing nasturtium colors, oleander
perfume, powder. Seductive as a flower, I study
the wings on my wine glass. I am
haloed with bees and beatitudes.
Nine hunters of honey in Nepal, Mani Lal their head.
This afternoon I’d gladly join them. I know
how to cling to the cliffside, avert my eyes from the
dizzying drop. I can pray. Here and now, I reap
the harvest from years of religious
modesty, countenance serene as a china plate. Draped
in a veil of drones, queens and workers,
I am high on experience in the attic apartments where
wasps and urban yellowjackets swarm under the eaves
every spring. Imaginary beekeeper,
I will not be checked by the actual, will hold onto
my friend wrote more surely than Sylvia Plath.
Step, step, bamboo! Setting my foot on the fiber
latter like Jacob’s dream angels, ascending,
descending. These lights of euphoria visit me rarely
now that I’m older than Mani Lal.
The honeybees I choose–Apis laboriorsa, the world’s
largest– must create a legend to equal
the story of Ambrose: a swarm from the brood comb
settled on my mouth as I lay in my cradle, the omen
propitious. It was raining honey.
Here lies the honey-tongued Hillsboro poet! What if
the bees make me suffer at times. I tweeze
the stingers from arms and legs, keeping my eyes on
Mani Lal, lips chanting my mantras. He carries a
bamboo basket lined with wild goatskin.
I would take my skin from the coat my father bought.
Her milk recovered my life from the foxglove of
formula. Here is her snapshot in the family album.
Imaginary Ancestors (1990)
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