The dead bee on my windowsill
is frozen in attack position,
as if by finding a crack with its barb
it could have rejoined the world.
I scoop the bee up, hold it closer.
One wing’s gone, and a splotch
from her sunny mane, which endears
her to me more, drawn as I am
to the disintegrating. O bee,
I see now bees are guardian angels
for the allergic stung. To find
a dead bee is a blessing, a reminder
that a sting’s red swell is really
the self’s toxin exiting
the heart through the skin.
What luck, dear bee. I’m trying
lately to believe
that on the days I feel something
sinking down on me
like a harpooned zeppelin,
a sheet of cosmic glass,
it is not my father’s god
come to crush me
but a word I’d use to pray myself
into a new hour.
It feels wrong to toss you out, Bee.
One mustn’t trash the dead.
I’d never forgive myself.
So let’s rest you here on the floor
where, maybe tomorrow
when I stomp blind downstairs
I’ll find you eaten by one
of the mice that come out
at night, find you
devoured—how I see
a soul is loosed,
reborn a new sun
in a deeper, wilder black.
Two stand by while the third yanks
a strip of flesh from the already-picked-over
remains of a fawn, hit and crumpled
on the curb of Georgia Road.
I can still make out where in the heap
a heart once thrilled as its body leapt
between the quaking aspen half a mile
south of Saint Robert Bellarmine,
where children, scrubbed and starched,
swing their feet beneath the pews.
The vultures are their own gods.
The one still feasting jerks its head
and the fawn is dragged, painlessly,
its legs rattling like chimes.
This is the most intimate of violences,
you say, having appeared from the air
laughing your French-American way,
up through your whole body and out your
unbearable face, a yelp of amaretto
pipe smoke. No junk in your eyes. Not yet.
This is springtime, before the disaster.
Then you are gone again.
Back into the trees, the birds and bones,
the road, wherever it is I am going.
Still finding your hair in my clean laundry
White beach in the fog on Christmas Eve
Smudge moon, waveless pale sea, salt on air
And tongue, plunge of breast I will not again
Mouth, proud cat toying with a dead bird
Proud clean sheets pulled taut for no one
Tongue on salt pebbled skin, spoon to saucer
Rising through wind, sea fleck and time
Shining belly, tuft of golden tangle, voice
A silver balloon flushing with lift, morning
Moon-face, dream-face, hazing over…
O beautiful swimmer in the soft distance
No telling if you’re really there
Coming back to shore, drifting out to sea
Gum-pink, supple, pulpy, how it still holds its petals,
a ring-shaped ceremony of edges.
I picked it on my last trip home and have carried it
in a capped jar since.
The jar is on the table where I am
not writing a letter
because I’m trying to remember a word.
Inside the jar, time moves slower than it does out
here in my kitchen, inside of which
time is slower than it is still farther out
where spring unclenches terribly.
Just last year it was spring.
I want to write to Tehila about how
when I was sitting on my front step
the sun caught a window across the street
and blinded me.
I want to write that glass.
Adam wrote a bee droning against a windowpane
as if it was an affront to flesh.
Over beers, we talked poets and lovers,
and toasted our respective lost.
(Terrible to lose a poet!)
A bountiful sadness, their accumulated weight.
Outside my kitchen, in the yard,
a bee tumbles from one blossom to another
in the cherry tree a storm took in December
that cracked over my neighbor’s fence
so I had to cut it down.
When we are taken—cracked, broken—
and go to where the broken go,
will we flower terrible flowers?
Some things are older than the world
and some things will outlast it.
I saw a color in a window—
iris-bright, glinting, knife-hard,
cross-section of an edge, its dizzy wonder—
I thought I knew what it was.
That’s gone now. (Whatever it was)
In its place, a new word.
FM Stringer’s poetry has appeared in B O D Y, Burning Word, and Emprise Review. An Inner Loop Writer of the Month, he’s written about music for Beats Per Minute and haiku about LeBron James for WLRN. He received a MFA in Poetry from the University of Maryland, was honorably mentioned in the 2013 Intro Journals Project, and lives in Baltimore.