And the Bees – Anna Laura Falvey

On Saturday morning, not too early, really,
Sarah and I drove North, up out of the city,
to leave it. The reason was
that on this particular day, last year,
both of us broke up with our respective partners.
By accident (of course)
they happened to be on the same day.
Our breakups did.
By happier accident, Sarah and I would meet
the following week when she came over
to see the room in my apartment
that she would be moving into. This weekend,
funny, marks one year of friendship
for us, one year of grieving
our significant losses.

We booked this strange silly place
in haste on AirBnb: Steve’s place, shared
with his wife, his son,
two pigs, five chickens, two turkeys,
two rabbits and their new spring babies,
at least six German shepherds
by my count,
a field, stream, and countless broke-
down structures
built, unfinished, and withered
in the woods by his son (?).

And one hive of bees.
A little chrome box with thousands of them
(I don’t know how many, actually)
building, crawling, cramped,
dark stood on a wooden table
near the front of the field. Steve pointed
to it as Sarah and I followed him

across his property. He then pointed to another
hive, towards the middle of the field,
and told us that
the bears this season had been out
and they had destroyed it. Splintered

wood and scraped blackened honeycomb
lay pillowed on the grass,
a grave. The sun hit
the wreckage at low angle, casting
a longstretched shadow across the yellow
cracking grass. We only passed

it by, but I was so so horrified
by it. In that moment’s fleet I felt
like I was looking at a constructed prop
from some strange psychological thriller,
the table’s beams bones
in the earth, washed in the sweet,
dry, honeycomb crack, dusted with sun
and decay. I felt the taste of earth fill
my mouth and stick there. This part I know

didn’t happen, but in my memory,
which is not memory,
but imagined,
Mel is sitting next to the broken beehive
in the sun. He is hunched,
as usual,
or maybe
I don’t remember
with his feet splayed outwards
and his hands around his ankles. He lifts
one hand to me in hello,
though I can’t hear it. I cannot remember
what the word sounds like
in his mouth. I can’t feel its timber,
its resonance. I can’t see his face either.
It’s hidden by the late afternoon sunmist.

In this memory I am making,
I do not wave back. I do not cry,
as I am crying now.

In my mind,
very quietly,
so that only he and I can hear,
I tell him
that he is a ghost that I no longer believe in
and that he may go now.

In this memory that did not happen,
I do not think he goes.
I do feel strongly
about the fact that this did not happen,
and I am choosing to end this false memory
here, with his hand paintstained
or maybe not
raised to me

There is nothing near the splintered hive
but sunmist and yellow grass.
and Sarah.
and I.
and Steve,
only he is gone now
and I will sleep
in the field until the sun sets
beneath the grass
and I will dig a well
through my chest
to collect cool groundwater

Anna Laura Falvey (she/her) is a Brooklyn-based poet and theater-maker. In 2020, she graduated from Bard College with degrees in Classics & Written Arts, with a specialty in Ancient Greek tragedy and poetry. She spent her college career blissfully hidden behind the Circulation and Reference desks at the Stevenson Library, where she worked. Anna Laura has been a teaching artist with Artists Striving to End Poverty since 2019, and is currently serving as an ArtistYear fellow, teaching Poetry in Queens, NY where she is the resident teaching artist at a transfer high school. Her work has appeared in Icarus Magazine as well as in issues 15 and 16 of Deep Overstock.

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