The Bees and the Beekeeper Speak – Mackenzie Beninati & Nico Wilkinson

There is an ancient tradition among beekeepers
to tell the bees the news of your life
much like you would tell a spouse
or a close friend.

your hurts and your triumphs
your secrets and prides

Name them Honored guests at weddings,
shroud them in obituaries when a family member wilts.

the blooming swell of your love
the scar that forms in that garden, your heart

Speak to them as soft as they walk
across wax-capped cells.

light and with love
speak as sweet as honey

Failure to do this, legend states,
will result in an empty hive.
Everything sweet, gone.

and isn’t that like depression
finding your beehive empty
a silent, dripping portrait
of your brain

you can do everything right,
as much as a human can do,
and still believe yourself
a midas of decay

I knew the hive was empty
long before I could make myself open it.
I’d pressed my ear to the wood
and heard nothing.
I knew I would find gold caverns
filled with your honeyed bodies.

we knew the hum of you was growing quiet
every time you walked into the cold to visit us
your silence filled every cell

if we are not invited
if we do not get to mourn with you

Our world ends. our world ends
These days, they call it
Colony Collapse Disorder,
when the worker bees disappear
and leave behind everything
that used to be home:
a queen, a brood of young,
everything that is family
as much as it is survival.

you blame your own garden
for a world so lacking in flowers

Sometimes, the world can do right by me,
as much as this aching world can do,
and still, I hold my ear to my heart
and hear nothing.

My brain is a collapsing colony. your brain is a collapsing colony

a silent hive
honey untouched
a garden unpollinated

For all of life’s seed and sap that I have collected,
I am still trying to keep myself from collapsing.

how do you fill your honeycomb with sweet things
in a world so covered in pesticides
how do you keep the fear from buzzing louder
than your will to survive

In the gray and winter of me,
the cold and silence of me,

I forgot to tell the bees. you forgot to tell the bees

tell us of the mornings you woke to a world
covered in smoke and refused to be calm about it
tell us of the ways you rebelled, dandelion-like
through the cement that paves every bit of good dirt
tell us of the days you danced a roadmap to the next bit of pollen
so others might have nectar
tell us how you planted yourself, a garden
that could thrive on rain, sun, and a little bit of help
from the bees

What happens
when the world stops talking?
When we run out of sweet and golden hope
to sustain us?

there will be no honey morning
no afternoon pollination ballet
your silence begets silence
but we are always listening

This world may have started with a bang,
crescendoed in a hum,

but it ends with

Mackenzie Beninati (she/her) is a poet, story teller, and proud cat mom from Utah by way of Colorado. She has performed in national poetry slams and small cafes, has been published in the student literary journal Riverrun, and has self published chapbooks of poems about queerness, railroads, and loving yourself.

Nico Wilkinson (they/them) is a poet, bookmaker, and farmer living in Colorado Springs, CO. They are the founder of the Keep Colorado Springs Queer open mic. They co-founded Prickly Pear Printing, which publishes anthologies of queer love, joy, and growth and incorporates letterpress and linocut printing techniques. Their home, The Queer Artists in the League of Love (Quaill) Club, has housed over 15 LGBTQIA+ artists and writers. They are always trying their best.

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