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Bees in a Time of War

ISSUE:  Summer 2009

It’s not the bees but the shadows of the bees
arcing over the surface of a field.

Down, then over. Up, and then across.
Their bodies skimming along the weedy surface

like thoughts. Or like a mass of thoughtless shapes
moving, only moving, and not meaning,

the bees’ quick bodies and the bodies’ shades
bullet-shaped, but much too soft

to be bullets, much too gentle, visibly
flitting over green pennants of grass.

Maybe a shadow is a body’s penance,
its penalty for moving across a field,

across so many blazing surfaces,
like this grass arcing out of amassed soil

—a punishment for enjoying pure yield,
for not yet having fallen in a crevice.

Maybe some dichotomy has failed,
the bodies and the shadows of the bees,

in their slightly shifting pattern, making forms
that are random: ovals, circles, angling reels,

the shadows marking darker, lowering wheels
beneath the bulky bodies of the insects,

wheels that both undermine and propel
the fact that the body of a bee exists,

that something shifts under its vibrant buzz,
building a field of grass and bees and shadows,

moving almost silently, without cause,
building and building from the fallen bodies.


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