What We Did with the Honey

By Julia Shipley

January 16, 2017

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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