09/04

ANCESTRY

my grandmother was full of bees.

the nest at the back of her throat.

i use the word “throat” too much in poems

because so much of my life has been about what

what enters me. to swallow or not to swallow.

a single bee slipping out as she speaks–

landing on her overripe pears. their skins

slipping off to reveal to sweet melting beneath.

i take off my clothing in front of windows, i always have.

i’m sick of weekends & tuesdays. i’m sick

of family trees. all their baby branches.

when am i going to dislodge

& plant my finger nails in the garden?

grow a family of gourds. pollinate a plum tree

with my grandmother’s bees.

i used to beg my mom for her to plant us

a crab apple tree. she explained you can’t eat

crab apples. i liked them for their smallness–

imagined placing on my tongue. all the bees

would gather there in our yard & have weddings

over & over all june. my grandmother died

on a cold day in january. all her bones turned to dust

& only the bees were left.

i am scared that i am losing

everyone i know to distance. i have started sending letters

with no return address to people i never met.

i slip a single bee inside.

sometimes i find a bee waiting on my porch.

not a real bee but a wasp or a hornet. i know they’re looking

for ancestry. digging in the flesh of this town

for someone to latch into. i open my mouth

in the mirror to check for nests.

nothing yet.

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