Having a focus on bees naturally makes me think about the finite time we have on Earth. We’re using up our resources and our continued consumption pushes creatures like bees further to the brink of extinction. And this is what I assumed 10 Poems about Bees, edited by Candlestick Press, a slim collection of poetry was going to contain: a dissection about why we need bees for our continued existence. Instead — and somewhat refreshingly — I got a collection about the observance of bees. We need them, yes, but that almost comes secondary to the fact that they’re living creatures who are also doing their best to survive our shared world.
The January Bee
Who comes to the winter-flowering shrub,
grief in his empty pouches, who sups
alone in the stilled garden this dusk:
I would have missed him only I stopped
mid-argument to watch the moonrise
over the wet roofs of the suburb
and caught him at work deep in the musk,
shaking the bells of the scarce blossoms,
tolling our anger, ringing in peace.
The poems here are grounded and quaint. They’re not necessarily trying to say anything larger than themselves, and that’s why I enjoyed them so much. The poets included are doing their best to take a snapshot of a small moment in this creature’s life—no frills needed. I can appreciate the simplicity of the approach and it’s a breath of fresh air to take a moment to observe something as important as the bee without trying to analyze every specific move. On this front, 10 Poems about Bees more than succeeds.