What would you do with twenty kilograms of honey
From the six hives you’ve kept through the seasons?
You have no intent of bartering the bees’ patient work
In their perfect citadels of sweetness, serving only one
Queen at a time: the strongest, most fecund of stately
Females, sure of the purity in pollen & nectar, sipped
In gradations of color and fragrance from gardens
Surrounding her and feeding her city to fullness.
In last year’s spring you had a swarm that went
Up your neighbor’s pear tree and you had to prove
Your mettle at luring them back into your garden,
The plums just beginning to pluck their courage
To blossom again after seven long years of sleep.
This summer, you’ve picked juicy ripe plums.
What could you do with five baskets of them?
You can only eat so much or freeze them so long!
On my side of the world tonight, after the rains,
Stray honeybees wearing their striped yellow
And black suits buzzed around my study lamp
To dry their wings. They have been doing this
This entire monsoon season, leaving the hive
From the tamarind tree in my neighbor’s garden.
A friend, also a beekeeper, says this behavior tells
They’ve gone blind, old, & come to the warmth to die.
Now, what do I do with a boxful of dead bees?