“The Bee”

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Jan. 15 2013 8:44 AM

“The Bee”

Pink flower.

Photograph by Susan Unterberg.

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Henri Cole read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.

                                                                          For Jamaica Kincaid

There’s a Bee
dying slowly
outside my
window.
He/she

makes this awful
buzzing sound
which grows
longer as
the end nears,

I suppose.
The mysterious
process at work
within him/her
is disturbing,

like a warm
wet finger.
Usually,
when you hear
a Bee,

the sound dissipates
as the Bee
flies away,
but this is just constant,
so constant I think,

Maybe this Bee
is stupidly in love
with me.
Or the buzzing
is inside

my head
and will become,
over time,
a friend—
a new kind

that doesn’t go away,
even after lots of sex—
my ear canal
growing receptive,
like a hard bud

to light,
or a vulva
to the perfect
relation.
Would we know

each other,
I wonder,
if our eyes met across
a crowded room?
I did not expect

to meet this Bee.
What else
could love be
but lots of buzzing—
or hate? 

For Slate's poetry submission guidelines, click here. Click here to visit Robert Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project site.

Henri Cole's most recent book is Touch, which received the Jackson Poetry Prize. He teaches at Ohio State University.