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Bee Tree

A bee colony,
black hole
in a split juniper trunk.
Gnarled, rough mounds of bark
guard a slash of buzzing dark.

Wild bees delight,
work and hover—
dive into an artificial night.
They pass each other
to cover cones with stolen nectar.

This could be the last bee tree
in a food chain of cultivated
colonies. Bee homebodies
thrive—imports mingle
without improvement,

and migrants sicken, shipped
on flatbeds cross-country.
No swarm, only purposeful acts
in a daylong dance to and fro.
The gash of hive is low

on the trunk, the whole
secret two feet high.
This fir, bearing cones
like shrunken blueberries,
with bark striations of whitish grey,

resembles a faded fence post
more than a living tree.
Inside there is a kingdom
waiting to collapse
on a queen so plump with life

she cannot see the danger
of such sweetness. Expanding
honey cores the juniper,
as sinkholes honeycomb the comet's
nucleus until it cries out,

its coma burning bigger than Jupiter.
17P/Holmes explodes gas
and dust as sun strikes it.
To the eye, a fuzzy spot enlivens
Perseus. To the lazy

bees, tucked into a moon-lit tree
it is nothing. Soon, it is nothing.

Cathryn Hankla

Mercer University Press

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