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Christie Collins

How could I not have grieved?
When their bodies, poisoned into a deep
& enduring sleep, drifted like dusty snowflakes
from the attic above — down, down
onto the ruddy linoleum floor
in the restroom of my therapist’s office.

When the capsules of their still bodies
were stepped on, crunched,
swept up, disposed of —

When it took a maintenance crew
hours to undo their nests,
the impressive sheets of comb
that had been so carefully composed
from earth, paper, bits of human trash,
a home forged of communal tenacity, instinct.

When the wealth of their honey,
that golden sea of their life’s work,
was drained from the combs, willy-nilly,
into several black trash bags —

When such a bustling city as it must
have been fell & fell silent.

I expected nothing of the afternoon,
no poem to unfold, no narrative to break
from my back like inkblotted wings.
But after seeing the last of their hive
swept up into a rusted dust pan,
I felt the truth of their absence.
I felt the early blistering of an ache & an elegy.

As the afternoon backbends into night,
I hear the memory of the honeybees buzzing,
rebuilding outside my window.
But, it can’t be. It can’t be. Their catacomb,
unyielding, Their bodies, only traceable
as tiny, magnanimous words.

Issue 9, 2017, pp 14-15