Published on Academy of American Poets (


The honey bees’ exile
     is almost complete.
You can carry

them from hive
     to hive, the child thought
& that is what

he tried, walking
     with them thronging
between his pressed palms.

Let him be right.
     Let the gods look away
as always. Let this boy

who carries the entire
     actual, whirring
world in his calm

unwashed hands,
     barely walking, bear
us all there

buzzing, unstung.


Copyright © 2017 by Kevin Young. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 29, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“‘Hive’ is the final poem in my new book Brown—a collection that takes up boyhood and brownness, moving through Kansas and the South, from James Brown to John Brown to the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case that transformed American life. Indeed, life hums here, in this boy remembered or imagined, the poem offering a kind of winged benediction—a song that summons suffering, but does not succumb, I hope.”
—Kevin Young


Kevin Young

Kevin Young's poetry collections include Brown (Alfred A. Knopf, 2018) and Book of Hours (Alfred A. Knopf, 2014), winner of the 2015 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. He was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2020.

Date Published: 2017-12-29

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