Safe from the crooked thread of odor that lured them away, bees scan bower walls, listening for a fissure to the garden. One flits out among orchidaceous irises: purple tongues loll from twisted petals’ velvet pincers. Darkness tastes magnetic to black iron bisons with chickadee hides, dogged, honing, fierce as mowers, the real excitement to which chimerical lovers in the upstairs gables are deaf.
The soil might be moaning. April ungathers pollen of lavender that I can never smell, and listing its big insects, her wind can work like an ocean I can’t feel. Spring
sun ruptures in mimosa, a leeching so gorgeous my eyes drain. In the super- luminous American night, the bees levitate. Blinded,
I don’t hear a dust of sugar moths follow, soft as waves, as furious flakes of light.
-- Stephen Massimilla is a poet, critic, professor, and painter. His latest book, The Plague Doctor in His Hull-Shaped Hat, was selected in the Stephen F. Austin State University Press Prize contest. He has received the Bordighera Poetry Prize for Forty Floors from Yesterday; the Grolier Prize for Later on Aiaia; a Van Rensselaer Award, selected by Kenneth Koch; an Academy of American Poets Prize; and multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. His volume Almost a Second Thought was runner-up for the Salmon Run National Poetry Book Award, selected by X.J. Kennedy. Massimilla has recent work in AGNI, American Literary Review, Barrow Street, Bellingham Review, Chelsea, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Epoch, Fiction Fix, The Literary Review, Marlboro Review, Paterson Literary Review, Provincetown Arts, The Southern Poetry Review, Tampa Review, and many other journals and anthologies. He holds an M.F.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University and teaches literary modernism, among other subjects, at Columbia University and the New School.