in the absence of queen bees
we bejeweled our eyes & worshipped them.
attic dust floating across
afternoon light. i was just
a honey worker. bringing whatever
sweet language i could find.
gold in my teeth. promises to breathern.
"we will get through this." my optimism
like a flute in the dark. listening
to my brothers as they arrived as
dead batteries. as the comb turned
grey with worry & age. my own machine-wings
becoming stained glass windows
through which little people came
to peer through. everyone is a church.
has the possibility to contain worship.
this can be terrible or it can be
a joy. my congregation did not remember
how to sing. the other bugs
came to watch us. we tried to crown
a cicada but she could not learn
to bask in honey. ants came
as they always to do a carcass.
i could no longer even remember
the queen's face, only that it glinted
like a belt buckle as she closed her eyes
& spoke with god to request
every single one of us. in my desperation
i shook a sibling awake. i said
"i could do it. i could be queen."
he laughed sadly & told me
what i already knew. it was too late
for queens. we were orphaned
in the shell of our home.
he said, "would you like
to go drink night flowers with me?"
i said, "of course."
so we did. in the glow of the moon
we drink lillies. let pollen cling
to our thighs. huddled
in the great shadow. hip to hip.
we saw the hive from a distance.
little cathedral crumpling in.
the leaves yellowing in the oak tree
where we used to flock.