Art by Amy Wheaton


Cell 0

This is the land of the beekeeper,
bound to the farm by his visa,
docile, unbarbed. The work of staying
in this country, making honey,
that is, is nothing
compared to selling Queens.
He tells me, when they swarm
it is near impossible to catch them.
It is far easier to coerce them
using the grayish smoke
that blocks their natural inclinations.
Within a certain radius of us, the bees
are used for various corporate purposes.
And there are backyard keepers, too.
But only Keepers with a capital K
pluck the Queens before fertilization
to cage them for sale.
Still, he brings me their sweet
makings from the coastal mangroves:
saw palmetto, gallberry, orange blossom,
in thick glass jars.

Cell 1

they say please organize yourselves

Keeper says the hardest part is keeping
the bees in place. He says their winged bodies
are perennially blooming. If it rains they may swarm
—God knows what else incurs their violence.
He says, give them shelter, watch them leave.
The Queen fulfills her body with indifferent duty.
She follows her most chemical senses
and senses what Keeper takes is taken willingly.
Soon, he will pluck her swollen body from the nuc
before she proves her fertile worth. The ability
to withhold the urge to seek another hive or naked
branch only increases her merit. Red is the color
of the year and it is brushed across her back:
makes it easier for them to find each other.
The desire to be contained rises in bold crescendo now
above the chemical noise of gardenia,
the cicadas screaming into summer, full swing.

Cell 2

according to us

Keeper says seasonal optimization of bodies
is necessary in the early spring. He will ship swarms,
hundreds of thousands of winged bodies to brush
violence with their puberulous husks. Losing
a Queen is not a cheap risk. Like the bees,
a body of Keepers work together—a superorganism
that senses adversity, conjoined by an urge for containment
and willful mass dis-organization. He promises
our gums will numb from all toothaches,
for all the gold. The urge, if not for gold, then for
what? The winged keep working to increase their Keepers’
belly loads and the growers’ sweep across the horizon,
ever fuller. Tracing gold upwards, othering to showcase
prosperity. Though the loss is also water, they drain
the earth until even it refuses the cicada-like clang
-clang of money. That’s when need comes down swinging,
a velvet cushion, an amber colored bruise.

Slide 1 - copy
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