What We Did with the Honey
The day we learned you were gone, Howie says he knocked, nothing answered.
He'd shoveled the slush-lined steps to the garden, through our marriage arbor, all the way out to the hive--your wedding gift to us--were any still inside?
They'd stung him all summer: his face, his ankle, his arm, but never me, though sometimes they veered for my curtain of hair.
Come fall we dared not break their combs for fear they'd starve; and then, in late winter's thrall, I worried a famished bear might bash the frames and slash the sweet from it.
Then your daughter called and said your heart had quit; you were half way up the stairs, but they restarted you. And then a clot shut part of you down; but before you got used to the stroke's ongoingness--your speech thickened with the viscosity of honey--another stroke broke you for good.
So they unhitched your electricity and permitted egress; but I hear your real voice--steady, sandpapered bass--and picture your tight mind zooming into the night, while daughter and wife stand by the closed house of you, surrounded by flowers.
Now Howie pokes a stick in the entrance to clear winter's harvest--bee carcasses. On returning, he says, So many. His dowel pierced more and more deceased. I interrupt, distressed: if they're all gone, just tell me.
No, he replies, I stuck the dowel in again and they roared!
Go put your ear against and listen, he said, they're alive.
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