“Bee Fugue” is from God, Seed, a full length book collaboration between poet Rebecca Foust and artist Lorna Stevens that will be published in 2010 by Tebot Bach. Foust’s book, All That Gorgeous, Pitiless Song, recently won the Many Mountains Moving Book Award and will be released in April 2010. Her chapbooks, Mom’s Canoe and Dark Card, won the Robert Phillips Prizes in 2007 and 2008.
Lorna Stevens received her MFA in Sculpture from Columbia University. She exhibits widely in galleries and public spaces. Her work has been reviewed in The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Marin Independent Journal and Artweek and has been acquired by the Brooklyn Museum, the New York Public Library and the di Rosa Preserve in Napa, CA.
Something’s wrong—some pesticide, parasite, or virus
infecting the honeybee brain—
they fan out in dawn beelines for work, mucking
chest-deep in pollen, forcing French kisses
from flowers—but by dusk they are looping in zigzags,
gone off plumb, can’t find
their way home to the hive. Their thigh sacs are heavy
and ache to draw comb,
but some template’s been changed and not changed.
Each saturate drop that thickens the comb,
the pheromone sillage of the sultry Queen, steeped
in her Bergamot musk—
these things remain. What’s lost is just the way back
to it all, which train
or track through the blank blue sky. They’re fogged,
quagmired and frantic.
The hive must be starving, that is if it’s still there
and not like the others gone silent
and withered. Empty of worker, or queen or drone,
but still crammed with capped brood
and uneaten food. Something’s wrong, and it’s big,
like gravity or radar.
Even the robber bees are keeping their distance,
even carnivorous mites.
Nature’s imposed her stone quarantine. O, who will
pollinate the grain now,
protect us from our ruthless genes? This is what