A Swarm Unto Herself—Barlow Adams

I know a woman with a beehive for a head, big as the pyramids, a basket woven by slave hands, fit for a queen, too small for a princess, labyrinthine and honey-trap. She sits in a cemetery older than art, raw-rubbed limestone slick before the first mammoth graced a cavern wall. A buzz, aflame, she sits among the dead, mouth open, a drawbridge for drones—in and out—thoughts and feelings. Sticky feet like muddy boots, treat the wounds even as they scrape her lips. 

I sit in the sting zone with a swollen tongue and golden fingers, dusted with pollen, making charcoal rubbings of ancient gravestones whose names have been stolen by wind and rain. 

“Here lies. Here. Lies.” I trace the truth, place it in her palm, but my words aren’t sweet enough for any servant to carry into her well-combed mind. 

She sings of summer in a thousand voices, yellow and black and labor and sun. We’ll be two more bleached bodies in an orchard of bone. After we’re gone the bees will still carry unspoken words from my throat to hers, as long as strangers bring flowers to honor beloved dead they never knew. Long as I can’t imagine a sweeter place to die. 

Barlow Adams is a writer and poet from the Cincinnati area with a pronounced interest in ghosts, faeries, basketball, and Godzilla. His stories and poems have appeared in many print and online journals. Follow him on Twitter @BarlowAdams

photo by Ante Hamersmit (via unsplash)