above: Sleeping Worker Bee, by Barrett Klein*

by Zoe Culbertson

Those nights the bees come
Buzzing at his nostrils
And the darkest part
Of the abstract blue rug
Pools midnight and suddenly looms
The lurking shadow
Pregnant with bad dreams

I sit quiet
Neatly self-contained and as unengaging
As a pebble
Resting in the orange velour fox chair
Much quieter even than meditation
Just a drop of presence
Leaning in and listening
For the drawing in of breath
The shift into those long inhales
As if my son’s slight body
Needs to sound a refrain
The arithmetic for all the taking in of the day

Somehow just sharing the dark
And the melodies of breath
Suffices to tame the shadow and
Mute the busy hum like veils of smoke
I can just remember how it felt
To be that anchored by a mother’s presence
And listening close for the shifts
In my own mother’s last breaths
Lengthening space between inhales
A few tenuous sips of air
As exhales and all that letting go
Seeped into all of the cracks like honey

*Barrett shot this image shot using a FLIR thermal camera while living in an apiary at the University of Würzburg, thanks to the BEEgroup.

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