The poem we’ve picked for today is from Singing the Flowers Open, our first book with the New Brunswick poet Allan Cooper. It is also reprinted in the poetry anthology Gaspereau Gloriatur: Volume 1.
The Worker Bee
My mother hands me the still form of a worker bee. It is
strangely silent in my palm, curled in on itself, as if asleep.
I’m careful with it at first, for I remember the sudden heat
of the stinger. But this yellow and black bee, striped near
the rump, once as feared as a lion, won’t sting again. I feel a
sadness holding it, for it is like anything that has lived and
died—what you miss most is the motion, the supple flow
of moving form. I look at the face: it is shaped a bit like a
sheep’s, coal black, only shinier, reflective as polished stone.
And the wings are stained glass in a monk’s room, or a map
on the wall, sketching the steep paths of the air.
I pick her up by one wing and shake her. She rattles like
ripe seeds inside a pod. The whir of wings is reduced to this
single sort of sound, abrupt and sharp, like castanets shaken
by someone mourning a death. Perhaps this is the sound of
the honey stomach, now dry like all the other organs, but
still holding a sweetness that never got back to the hive.
And maybe inside there is amber, and if I opened her now
the scent of honey would rise from the body casket, and
the many eyes on the face would remember flowers, bright
spring flowers, clover and dandelion, their colours in June—
and other colours known only to the bee, ultraviolet, yellow
Copyright © Allan Cooper, 2001.