The Bees

“I have a self to recover, a queen. Is she dead, is she sleeping? Where has she been, with her lion-red body, her wings of glass?” – from ‘Stings’ by Sylvia Plath

i. The Queen

When I couldn’t recover the self
___that flaked like dust
from paper-thin wings, my children
turned against me, they pummelled
my body like ash, suffocated by song.

Face first, my daughter waxed from
___her peanut-hollow cell,
crawling through its open hinges
like a ghost, like a crook, I saw her
coming, that tiresome usurper;

The virgin Queen, swift as an intruder
___at my mantel, honey-sweet
and baby-eyed, her allure so strong,
they let me wilt, they let me starve – –
matricide on the edge of a comb.

ii. The worker bee

Baron and restless, I find myself
___nursing the pupae,
I watch them grow, my baby
sisters, their eyes bulging like full
moons in their skulls.

Careful and skilled as a painter,
___I coat each cell in shades
of amber. Sticky with chewed
nectar, laden with honey,
tonight, I weaken and wane.

The damp earth welcomes me back,
___sluggish and unsure,
I heed its call, crawl with trembling
limbs, rest in dirt under the moonlight,
my final dance complete.

iii. The drone

I find her mid-flight, encircled
___by males humming their
excitement, the fabled Virgin,
her body ripe and open, yellow
as a beacon, my own siren call.

Thrilled with pubescent luck,
___I launch my descent,
quiver like a bow in this racket
of wings, air, six feet grappling
like anchors in her back,

Our union done, the congregation
___thrums its approval – –
this love breaks me in two, I am
ripped tissue even as she parcels
a satisfied smile – virgin-no-more.