From My Commonplace Book - 19

from "Findings" in Harper's Magazine, April 2010

Bees can remember human faces, but only if they are tricked into thinking we are strange flowers.

The Bee Tapping Inside Your Car's Back Window

by David Shevin

He say we goin to the same place tonight?
He say I'm a worker just like you, and I ain't hauling
no more sweets to Her Majesty until I gets paid.
He say take me to the river, cuz I gonna catch me
a mess of small fish and polliwogs.
He say do be a do-bee.
He say roll me a do-bee.
He say Malone don't you be no drone.
He say Queenie don't you be such a meanie.
He say the swarm's the thing.
He say wadchoo wave that newspaper at me for,
you know I don't care about the deregulation of nowhere
or the coronation of the ducal potentate
kiss my waspy leghairs.
He say sometime I could get hot for a hummingbird, I think big.
He say the moon's pull at harvest season seems to draw
each blossom's sweetest nectar. I am drunk with the perfumes
of all God's gardens. I give myself to pollens
and the new wind.
He say ripeness is all.
He say BUZZ, baby and Gimme some sugar.
He say gimme a comb where the wild dahlias bloom.
He say what IS this thing you call glass?
He say lookit my belly, I was raised on royal jelly.
He say I must be a Roman cuz my belly's all abdomen.
He say lookit that crow there and see how she glide.

The poem by David Shevin appeared in Bottom Dog Press Poetry Anthology: 25th Anniversary.

"Findings", the final page of every issue of Harper's Magazine, takes recent scientific research and summarizes, in a single sentence or clause, results that are surprising and often amusing.


He say sometime I could get hot for a hummingbird, I think big.

My heart goes out to the bees caught behind the glass in the they are going along their merry ways, and voila, behind the pane of glass they find themselves. Their wings and buzzing....and one just wants to set them free. Flapping against time. Buzzing: 'get me outta this place'..... these are just some of the things I think of when I see a bee or wasp trapped behind the car's window, in the back.

I can empathize with the bee....we are trapped behind our own panes of glass, most of us here.

Thanks for posting this great poem Merry!
Nico, aren't you sweet to worry about the bees and wasps. Thanks for your response. I like the way you think and write.

I had not thought about how we humans here, with our illness, are as if trapped behind panes of glass. Thanks for that.
Much enjoyed "tricked into thinking we are strange flowers" - the Bumble Bees newly emerged alight with great ease now and have wondered "is this shower gel" - bit of both I think "knowing" very welcome in our little patch.
Hi, Enid. The bumblebees alight upon you? You strange flower!

Every summer wood bees (I don't know if you have these in England) drill into the wood railing on the back steps. I guess they lay eggs, but actually do not know what they are doing inside there. The wood bee is a slow-flying bee, and when I am on the step, one or two hover about me as if curious. Or maybe they mean to warn me. I don't feel threatened. I don't know that they sting. My little bee friends -- some days they are all I have!

I haven't seen a real bumblebee -- one of those big bees -- for a long time. Or perhaps I'm remembering them from childhood as bigger than they are?

The house I grew up had honeybees in the walls. Many would crawl into the house from cracks around the windows and die. And us little kids in our barefeet would step on them and get stung.
I can well understand your friendly Bumble Bees Merry, I think what happens with ours (we are semi rural here) is the attraction of a large lavendar bush just outside. They are not as you know the most agile fliers and probably "drunk" on the nectar fall onto the nearest thing (me when out and able) before taking their load home in a more steady fashion. And your some days all I have reminds me of a long period very ill and quite "deserted" (as it goes with ME) having the company of a water snail left in an Aquarium over a long solitary Winter. Just kept me going watching it's daily routine around the tank. I've never been so grateful for the company. Now extra consideration is given to all "creepie crawlies" in the garden ! (except aphids on the roses). Much like going back into one's childhood and the wonder of it all.
Just re-read your thoughts on Bee types - we have many but the big Bumbles are the joy - such unlikely flyers. Hope no stings this Summer !
Hi, Enid.

I loved hearing about your snail friend.

Spiders I find in the house I remove by pushing them with a paper towel into a plastic cup. I am reluctant to kill them. As I throw them out the front door, I tell them, "You'll be happier outside" (although this can't possibly be true in winter!).

In Navajo mythology the Spider plays an important role. She is our Grandmother. I am not Navajo. I just remember reading that a long time ago.

Well, this is fun, creating a garden with you. Possibly we are constructing an alternate universe to the Phoenix Rising website by tunneling down through the comment boxes.
Very much like tunnelling Merry - with the added problem (along with ME) of an Arts background not easily bent to the mechanistic "world". But a fresh approach kindly given by a neighbour IT specialist who assures me my computor is only trying to help has given it a slightly more "human" touch. Pantheism and Navajo and spiders and of course Bees come much more naturally though. It's going to take a long time to catch up with you all here.

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