Living on Earth has been occasionally featuring poetry. Today, Ross Gay waxes poetic about beekeeping.
We’ve occasionally been bringing you poetry inspired by the natural world – and we have more today.
GAY: My name’s Ross Gay and I think I probably started writing poems when I was in college. I was a football player and I hadn’t done much reading before I got to college, though I did read comic books, and stuff like that. But I got to college and somehow was turned on to poetry in an American literature class and poets like Amiri Baraka, especially, actually made me have a response that was so strong, they sort of articulated things that I had not yet known how to articulate, but that I had felt very strongly.
And once I’d had that experience of being able to feel something more clearly, because I had it articulate for me, I wanted to sort of do the same thing, I think. And that’s how I started writing poems.
YOUNG: Ross Gay says now he’s a basketball coach, an occasional demolition man, a painter – and a gardener.
GAY: This poem is called “Ode to the Beekeeper,” and this is a poem, actually for my partner, who keeps bees, and you know, all of this information about colony collapse disorder- you know this had been very much on a lot of people’s minds and was very much on her mind- which got her to begin keeping bees. It’s called “Ode to the Beekeeper.”
Who has taken off her veil and gloves and whispers to the bees
In their own language
Inspecting the comb-thick frames
Blowing just so when one, or the other, alights on her, if she doesn’t study it first
The veins feeding the wings, the deep ochre shimmy, the singing
Just like in the dreams that brought her here in the first place
Dream of the queen, dream of the brood chamber, dream of the desiccated world, and sifting with her hands the ash
And her hands ashen when she awoke
Dream of honey in her child’s wound
Dream of bees hived in the heart and each wet chamber gone gold
Which is why, first, she put on the veil
And which is why, too, she took it off
YOUNG: As well as writing poetry, Ross Gay teaches creative writing at Indiana University at Bloomington.
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