Late afternoon slants, illuminates

the worn, white husk of hive and gleams

like an incubator bulb on the oval of an egg.

This might have been the way I was born

to move over my mother and wash from her

what was left of painful birth, her legs opened

like the old wood cracked with a hive tool,

my lips clamping and the bees burrowing

into honeycomb, bathed in sweetness,

a taste fresher when robbed.

Smoke to calm, to push the heaving bees down,

and is stroked, flanked by the upturned rumps

of guard bees, wings fanning scent: a warning.

We open this small universe and set it in motion,

a new heart ready to be fed and broken and fed again,

gathering strength to reseal and take into itself

what we leave behind: fingerprints

through broken comb and drones, crushed.

This might have been the way I was born

and then set to life, stolen honey clinging

to light hair that covers everything new.

Like late afternoon sunlight, a kiss

on my dented forehead, mother collapsed and emptied

of poison, barbed stinger and the baby, the jelly, the bee.

down to the center where the queen hides

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