Intimate Detail

By Heid E. Erdrich b. 1963 Heid E. Erdrich
Late summer, late afternoon, my work
interrupted by bees who claim my tea,
even my pen looks flower-good to them.
I warn a delivery man that my bees,
who all summer have been tame as cows,
now grow frantic, aggressive, difficult to shoo
from the house. I blame the second blooms
come out in hot colors, defiant vibrancy—
unexpected from cottage cosmos, nicotianna,
and bean vine. But those bees know, I’m told
by the interested delivery man, they have only
so many days to go. He sighs at sweetness untasted.

Still warm in the day, we inspect the bees.
This kind stranger knows them in intimate detail.
He can name the ones I think of as shopping ladies.
Their fur coats ruffed up, yellow packages tucked
beneath their wings, so weighted with their finds
they ascend in slow circles, sometimes drop, while
other bees whirl madly, dance the blossoms, ravish
broadly so the whole bed bends and bounces alive.

He asks if I have kids, I say not yet. He has five,
all boys. He calls the honeybees his girls although
he tells me they’re ungendered workers
who never produce offspring. Some hour drops,
the bees shut off. In the long, cool slant of sun,
spent flowers fold into cups. He asks me if I’ve ever
seen a Solitary Bee where it sleeps. I say I’ve not.
The nearest bud’s a long-throated peach hollyhock.
He cradles it in his palm, holds it up so I spy
the intimacy of the sleeping bee. Little life safe in a petal,
little girl, your few furious buzzings as you stir
stay with me all winter, remind me of my work undone.

Heid E. Erdrich, “Intimate Detail” from The Mother’s Tongue. Copyright © 2005 by Heid E. Erdich. Reprinted by permission of Salt Publishing.

Source: The Mother’s Tongue (Salt Publishing, 2005)

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Poet Heid E. Erdrich b. 1963

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Activities, Jobs & Working, Nature, Animals

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Heid  E. Erdrich

Biography

Poet Heid E. Erdrich, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe, was born in Breckenridge, Minnesota, and raised in nearby Wahpeton, North Dakota, where her Ojibwe mother and German American father taught at the Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school. She earned a BA from Dartmouth College and two MAs from the Johns Hopkins University, in poetry and fiction.
 
Erdrich’s poetry often explores themes of indigenous culture, . . .

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Poems by Heid E. Erdrich

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Activities, Jobs & Working, Nature, Animals

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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