My nephew was incredibly flexible when he was young. He reminded me of the comic book character Plastic Man. Family members joked that he was made of rubber. He could bend his hands backwards and contort himself into poses that could only be achieved by a human body less than a decade old. One of his more impressive tricks was dropping from a standing position into a perfect split. He would do this so suddenly and so completely that all the females marveled and all the men winced with pain at the sight of it. My nephew grew up and is now an adult about to leave for college. He doesn’t perform gymnastic parlor tricks anymore, and I stopped thinking about splits until I became a beekeeper. Doug and I have been doing splits this spring but not the kinds of splits that lead to a groin injury. In the beekeeping world, a split is what you do when you divide a bee colony, and bee splits can be just as tricky as the splits performed by gymnasts.Continue reading
I like to write poetry. I don’t do it very often, but sometimes a phrase comes to my mind and a poem quickly evolves. I usually don’t have a defined topic in my mind. Instead words and phrases rain down like blocks falling from a Tetris game, and I just try to organize them in a way that fits.
Yesterday was an upside down day. We received about 3 inches (~8 cm) of heavy, wet snow. This is how my front flower bed looked one day prior to the snow.
This is what the vegetable garden looked like one day later.
The only creature happy about this development was my dog Forte. The bees were not happy. The cabbage plants and Brussel sprouts were not happy. The cherry tree and phlox were not happy, and neither was I. Perhaps it was from this vortex of emotions that this poem evolved.
I should write one cautionary note before sharing my poem. This poem is not autobiographical, and I am not contemplating death. I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea especially since my last post was about depression. (You can read that post by clicking here.) The only line that is a true reflection of my feelings is the line about humans being taxing. Everything else is about a fictitious beekeeper who is reaching the end of a long life well lived.
A Beekeeper's Goodbye He asked: What shall we do to honor you when you have left this plane and are gathered to your people now free of Earthly chains? Shall we make expansive speeches filled with solemn words or sing a round of sacred hymns played in the minor chords? Shall we place your name on buildings and write your name on plaques so you will always be remembered by those who walk your paths? Shall I write for you a poem to honor you with verse or hire a team of Lippizans to pull along your hearse? I said: I know you speak with kindness but your offers make it clear we walked through life together buy you didn’t really hear. I want no recognition or the stuff that comes from fame. I don’t need the howls of mourners echoing my name. I want only for a sunny day when I am laid to rest. Let the birds and flowers shepherd me into my final nest. Human beings are taxing and filled with selfish needs. The time I was the happiest was the time I spent with bees. - K. L. Ackley 2021