The Day the Beekeeper Died: Sulaymaniyah

His daughter pulls on
            her father’s frayed dishdasha
                                     to go check the bees.

Today she doesn’t
            carry the smoke canister
                                    with her to the field.

She opens a tray
            while talking down their high whine,
                                    breaks off honeycomb

and rubs it over
            her face and hair, over white
                                    cloth, down to her feet.

Each of her hands holds
            the crumbling comb like a sponge
                                    while she waits for them.

When the first one comes
            she feels wings against her toes,
                                    a tongue unscrolling.

She wills herself not
            to laugh as the next alights
                                    on her neck, tickling

her hairs as it walks.
            Then they descend to shoulders,
                                    forearms, chest, thighs, eyes

she shuts—she feels the
            thousand tongues on the cloth.
                                    Feather-like wings churn

in her ears, rustle
            and hum with agitated talk.
                                    Never been so loved.

Her father’s alive,
            she’s a torch of burning bees,
                                    tears course across cheeks.

When her mother sees
            the apparition of bees
                                    walking towards their door

she falls on her knees.
            It is the end of the world.
                                    But when the angel

speaks with her daughter’s
            voice she’s not amazed. Mama,
                                    how do I end this?

Her mother brushes
            bees away from her eyes, pulls
                                    them from her hair and

undresses her child,
            hanging the winged dishdasha
                                    on the clothes line.

Carries her naked
            girl into the house to bathe.
                                    The bee-like angels

take all day to strip
            honey from the robe, return
                                    it to their tiered home.

“The Day the Beekeeper Died: Sulaymaniyah,” copyright 2010 by David Sullivan, published by permission of the author.
Source: 2010
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