I always knew my father was allergic to bees
but it wasn’t until his obituary
I learned he was once a beekeeper.
In those days, I hear, he prayed
to his veil– only to re-emerge, hours later,
having danced with God
under every umber swarm.
He was a gifted storyteller
but it wasn’t until his stroke
at seventy-four made me listen,
when his mouth betrayed his brain.
In his final years he would repeat,
the end of bees is the end of man.
So, heaven in the soft petals
scattered in the grass.
Young violets lined his coffin.
All I wanted was to listen
to stories he told before,
details I had forgotten.
Around the cemetery,
bees still glissando
through gardens not unlike the ones
he dug into his blackened fingernails–
honey and sweat, story-
pollinated requiems, harmonies
heard in bountiful
fields of bloodroot.
(originally published in Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal – Spring 2016)