This one goes out to Michelle Castleberry, and is best understood as a response to her fabulous poem, “The Gift.”
The night you stole the hives,
We had gone out—
A thousand of us guys—
One last rollick on the town
Before sampling the delights of our virgin queen.
The girls had fed us ambrosia for days
As they gazed into our compound eyes
And exclaimed at the size of our mandibles.
The queen could hardly wait, they sighed,
Assuring us that every man would have his turn
That night, mustered just beyond the apiary,
We boasted how we’d dive like comets
Over her—each one of us was sure
He’d be the first and best to rock her world.
But flying home, a little drunk,
We found the bee house carted off,
The homestead vanished,
Our drowsy queen
An adolescent dream.
And now there’s not a wing
To prove we’ve not imagined our own race—
No buzz in rhododendrons, no
Dancing grace notes on the wind,
Not one sweet treasure left on earth.
Unless it’s true the night you
Spanned the globe and made off
With a million honeyed palaces
You found some best-forgotten mercy
And left a scent the drones could follow.
It’s said that a year’s walk from the horizon
Where lone and level sands stretch far away
A solitary storehouse thrums with bees.
And so we wander,
Stingerless and hungry
For the sight of her—
A thousand consorts, who sweep the barren land
And mourn the kings we might have been.
© Katherine Grace Bond