In the Sichuan Province of China, the honey bee has been erroneously
eradicated by pesticides and lack of diverse flowering foliage. The
Chinese government has ordered all pollination to be performed by the
Women, men live in trees, their feathers
laden with dust. They reach for columns
nestled in stamens, waxen bulbs of anthers.
Nestled in limbs, they cling to branches,
wait for the eruption of pears
they’ll wrap in soft papers
staying the jaws of aphids,
their mandibles sharp as antlers
Tell me again, again, the legend of the bee,
the child asks before bed.
Once, thorax and striped abdomens
circled over petals, trees,
their beauty igniting small fires among leaves
until moisture from rind, pulp
erupted to turn blazes to smoke⎯
and this was how fruit began.
Once, there was a queen
who had 30,000 lovers.
Every moment she was lost in creation,
her eggs deposited like gems
in tight chambers. She ate only royal jellies,
bathed in royal nectars.
Once, our hands were for needles, yarn,
our knuckles lost in dough,
and honey coated every loaf, soothed
ailing children’s throats, their fevers
fanned by hover of wings,
bees clustered around their heads
Goddess of the Pears
Families leave blossoms, stems, at her statue’s hem,
touch her lips, eyes, asking for signs
of honey, riddling of bodies though hive.
They plead for impalement of stingers
lodged deep in tired fingers,
arias of wing and hum.
But the goddess,
unmoved, remains stone,
pities the absent queen’s throne
of wax—but she will not bring her back,
she will not bring her back,
and pollen will coat villagers’ fingers,
settle in their dark hair.