When my daughter drizzles gold
on her breakfast toast, I remind her
she’s seen the bee men in our tree,
casting smoke like a spell until
the swarm thrums itself to sleep.
She’s seen them wipe the air clean
with smoke, the way a hand smudges
chalk from a slate, erasing danger
written there, as if smoke revises
the story of the air until each page
reads never fear, never fear. Honey
is in the hive, forbidden lantern
lit on the inside, where it must be dark,
where it must always be. Honey
is sweetness and fear. I think
the bees have learned to embroider,
to stitch the sky with warnings
untouched by smoke. Buzzing
is the sound of bees perforating the air,
as if pulling thread through over
and over, though the thread too is air.
From Weep Up (Tupelo Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Maggie Smith. Used with permission of the author.