My Friends, the Bees

for John Maziarz

The winter night you helped me
untie the mattress from the top of the car,

and we carried it upstairs, all you said was:
We will find a river.  With that I was alerted

to the currents that flowed inside you.
Then into spring and through fall, you held

ladders, while I painted tall Victorian peaks
and gripped the shutters you handed to me;

more than just the stickiness of paint between us.
You began stories with Well, yass,

and I followed you coon hunting over expanses
of swamp abundant with pussy willow.

You would punch the time clock the next morning
at the factory, spent, but full of the river

you had found. That next spring at dusk,
when the smell of damp earth rises, you led me

to the abandoned servants’ quarters, only days
before a doctor’s diagnosis of cancer, and there,

where a broken water pipe made a right angle
over the blossoming hawthorne, came the dripping

from the hive, that first covered your index finger,
then flowed over your entire hand with a buzzing

that matched the quiver in your voice,
when you declared, My friends, the bees.

About the author

Wally Swist has published over forty books and chapbooks of poetry and prose. His latest book of essays and newest collection of poetry, A…

Read the full bio

Issue 07 · November 2009

Table of contents