I’m driving down the road, by my side a sack
of camellia blossoms and a bee.
The blossoms, their petals silky coins
of pink and red, are stacked and staggered,
some fluted at the edges, some specked with gold.
Beauty heaped in disarray,
though the wrinkled sack lacks all signs of it.
I’m driving down the road with a sack of beauty,
which, I can tell by the buzzing and tapping,
is an ill fit for the bee.
When I pick camellias, I know to hold the blossoms
upside down to free the bees
that may have tunneled deep.
Sometimes the bee does not emerge.
You must learn to look at the world upside down,
the preacher said at Phil’s funeral—
the preacher said this clearly, despite his stutter—
the world that will never be the same,
the tilt that stumbles me.
At the light I roll the window down
and open the sack, shaking it and imagining
a kiss of bitterness, and then another, stinging
and singing in circles at my head.
My forehead and nape, the softest
spot on my wrist—they crawl with the song.
But the bee does not emerge.
When the light turns green,
I bear right at Cosgrove—marsh, palmettos,
this sack of beauty. I hear the tapping again,
and again, each time fainter, until no more.
Reprinted from My Dear, Dear Stagger Grass (2013), Winner of the inaugural CPR Editors’ Prize book award. Republished with the permission of the Susan Laughter Meyers estate.