Why Honey Matters

I (1944)

Back in Ukraine, Dido loved beekeeping.
Behind barbed wire at an internment camp,
his honey bought bread for Mother, Uncle
and Babtsia. Every crumb prized.
Each morsel gulped. Always aching for more.

II (2018)

Mother comes to me as I’m making honey cake,
measuring out sugar then whipping eggs.
Never mind that Mother left this earth
eighteen months earlier. I can sense her pleasure,
her presence — palpable as smoke.

I apologize aloud for running out of buckwheat
honey which we both know tastes best. Dark
as amber — flavored like musk and molasses.
But Mother doesn’t mind. In my empty kitchen,
I sense no disapproval.

Now that Mother’s with me, I grow bold
with my spices. Extra ginger and cinnamon.
Grated orange rind. Splash of rum.
Like Mother, I don’t hold back.

III (1990)

First boil honey. Then cool it.
But don’t get lax. Boiled too long,
honey loses its essence.

Great-Aunt whispers in my ear
after too much Crimean Muscat —
table laden with cheese, kovbasa, crepes,
thick slices of seven-layered honey cake —
one layer for each decade she’s lived.
Homemade cherry wine slips down my throat.

It’s been 47 years since Great-Aunt last
embraced Mother. This morning, in a Carpathian
hometown — a blue door opened. Tremor
of hands. Rush of feet. No words spoken.
Only the chirping of birds outside.
Only the caress of reunion inside.

About the author

Ksenia Rychtycka's poetry chapbook A Sky Full Of Wings was selected as a finalist in the 2020 New Women's Voices Chapbook Competition and is…

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Issue 24 · September 2021

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