hum – Lauren Swift

dreamt a country of wild bees
during the usual restless sleep
only, they were augmented by the trouble
of domestication, that in mind’s country
the systems are kept in line, in delicate assemblage

when I woke, I wished this world to be made
of hexagonal prisms, a honeycomb we could climb through
and lay up against and see one another between,
a sweet thing to refract mourning,
a way of encounter

and even in this strange and magnificent nest
everyone dies, I know
some deaths even return their owner to soil, I know that, too—
the final deaths do that, but not the ones
that get strewn like pollen and plant a painful itch
in eyes, an allergy

the geometry of a honeycombed world
is something to behold: the axes are quasihorizontal,
the way they fit together conserves the perimeter
of the structure, the ends are trihedral sections
of rhombic dodecahedra, their adjacent surfaces dihedral angles,
merged in a way which minimizes the surface area for volume
even just saying all these words is like honey on the tongue—
the pyramidal apex, the cell lattice—
why don’t words always feel
like such willowy playthings?

my grief has changed over time,
like the figure-eight dance of honeybees
I look to my loves now
to pattern all of living, to tell me where the resources dwell,
the richest nectars, a way to replenish and, too, gather something
to bring back to them
who give me shelter in their hive

Lauren’s work has appeared in or is forthcoming with Cimarron Review, Denver Quarterly, North American Review, Atlanta Review, The 2River View, The Rumpus, Birdcoat Quarterly, No Contact, and as the recipient of Academy of American Poets Prizes in 2016 and 2019. You can find her online at

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