Best of the Net 2009  

The Apiary

He wanted to keep bees. I know the story
by heart: walking the long road behind
our house, he followed a strange noise, found
a hive living in the ribcage of a raccoon
skeleton scattered in the grass. He said
they were perfect, every drone working
for one common goal. Enviable purpose.

I could not stop the Philistines, their burning
hands against his face. Even now, months
after, I imagine the burning, the wet sizzle
on the slick surface of his eyes. No good sleep
in days; his lips shape my name in dreams,
the liquid vowels sliding through the darkness
to wake me, scarlet and guilty, in the night.

Before the temple fell, he touched my face:
hot fingers a promise against my cheek.
Hair again long and strength restored, he knew
then it was the end; he had won. I caught
his thumb between my teeth, tasted the sweet
trace of honey on his skin. The whole world
opened in that moment: his hand cupping

my face, my tongue touching the future
he planned. I stepped away and it crumbled,
the temple in ashes around my feet. I tend
the bees alone now, sliding each wooden
frame out to collect the honey, examine
the comb, my tongue always searching
for sweetness but tasting nothing at all.

- Rachel Bunting (from Boxcar Poetry Review)