At the Wewahitchka tupelo harvest, there are bottles
lined up on tables. Plastic bears hug fronts to
Each other’s backs, make an army of sweetness poured
dark and strong into bottles maybe fierce, maybe
Just pretending, maybe absolving the shape of bear
from the burden to grizzle and scare.
Whatever happens, whatever shape is found, the honey
has flowed, flown, fallen into hands that work
It through precise machines, making it clean, pure
tupelo. The word is Algonquin and full of
Swamp, but we’ve borrowed it to mean deep south,
to mean the sliver of May that the beekeepers
Can use. The banners, the bottles, the signs,
apiary, apiary, apiary—behind the counters
Does this look like work or like fulfillment? I can’t
believe there would be no logical end of things
For beekeepers. All day people in hats shaped
like bumblebees and wasps mill through
The harvest. Either they know the answers or they don’t
care about the questions. Whatever this map
Of mud and sweetness is, I have bought into it.
I’m younger than anyone here, and I have read
Books about bees, but I’ve only been stung twice.
I’m caught white-handed, I might say, and they
All think I’m a Yankee or a punk rocker. It’s a nice day for
a white wedding. Veils and sun-bleached hair,
It’s necessity, not vanity, but I know I’m out of place
despite my appetite for honey, honey, more honey
The endless baskets of various ambers, swamp dark
and brooding even in wrinkled hands,
Aged faces, gold-capped teeth, twinkling a bit like a pirate’s
under the brim of straw hats that keep out the sun.
Its heat lets us know underneath we’re alive, we’re flesh,
we’re none of us bees.
Erin Lyndal Martin is a poet, fiction writer, and music journalist. Her work has recently appeared in PANK and InDigest and is forthcoming in Crowd and The Offending Adam.
Photograph via Flickr by Stew Markel