THE GENIUS OF BEES
Dreaming late into the morning. But let’s say
You wake a second time in a sunlit barn
Full of snoring animals, 75 degrees
Already and the ripe green smell of straw, sleep’s love
Of death becoming amplified
In the face of all that bright-baled languor,
While nearby a neighbor takes his coffee to his couch,
Deploys his SAP function,
And a bee looks in the window
Using all three of its relatively weak eyes.
And in fact the man looks out at the bee.
When these two consciousnesses collide what you hear is
The softest cooing, followed by a whippoorwill . . .
An hour later, plastic and standing water, a pale red
Wiffle ball near some grass. The cow looks out her crude
At a fence but can’t tell
She isn’t part of it. Part producer of bombs and plant food,
Part idiot savant, she swishes
Her tail and chews while simultaneously rolling her eyes . . .
Straw followed by shit followed by straw and more shit
One thing touches another.
And so when a barn swallow swims toward you from inside
This cave of swirling pigeons
She is as intense burning at her center of gravity-in-motion
As the cow is, sedately twitching out ripples of energy as she’s
You can feel the heat in your fingernails . . .
When you first woke up, at sunrise, and came outside to pee
There was a wolf spider in the wheelbarrow.
It wouldn’t move. It was floating on water.
It was picking up radio signals through its legs.
It stood like a tower
Fragile with lightning bolts.
It was about to speak Japanese.
Now a free-roaming white chicken stops and peers
At the masticating cow
Who appears dubious about the dimensions
Of her stanchion. It’s almost noon
And the heat causes the cicadas
To whine. The bee back in the hive
Rattles with dance. The man
Checks the stock market, stares into a virtual window . . .
We know what’s happening because we’ve seen it all
(the bee is giving directions, the man calculates his
Only the recently informed bees
Stream toward the house and then fly right over it
On their way to several sunflowers
And some lavender sweet in the shade of a mountainous
ooooak tree . . .
And the man begins writing.
He understands he’s lost in the present tense forever . . .
Meanwhile, it’s a crow the cow’s now confused about
It looks so much like a person about to speak.
But instead it’s the goat who starts talking, bleating,
Who glares at you with his hard-split eyes
As if to say Stop imagining so hard . . .
So you pick up the dented wiffle ball
And loft it high into the barn
Where it gets hung up in a breeze.
It bounces around on the cow’s back
Then comes wobbling out toward you . . .
You aren’t going to die in this lifetime.
from Massachusetts Review, 2006.
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