“Telling the Bees” by Deborah Digges

It fell to me to tell the bees,
though I had wanted another duty—
to be the scribbler at his death,
there chart the third day’s quickening.
But fate said no, it falls to you
to tell the bees, the middle daughter.
So it was written at your birth.
I wanted to keep the fire, working
the constant arranging and shifting
of the coals blown flaring,
my cheeks flushed red,
my bed laid down before the fire,
myself anonymous among the strangers
there who’d come and go.
But destiny said no. It falls
to you to tell the bees, it said.
I wanted to be the one to wash his linens,
boiling the death-soiled sheets,
using the waters for my tea.
I might have been the one to seal
his solitude with mud and thatch and string,
the webs he parted every morning,
the hounds’ hair combed from brushes,
the dust swept into piles with sparrows’ feathers.
Who makes the laws that live
inside the brick and mortar of a name,
selects the seeds, garden or wild,
brings forth the foliage grown up around it
through drought or blight or blossom,
the honey darkening in the bitter years,
the combs like funeral lace or wedding veils
steeped in oak gall and rainwater,
sequined of rent wings.
And so arrayed I set out, this once
obedient, toward the hives’ domed skeps
on evening’s hill, five tombs alight.
I thought I heard the thrash and moaning
of confinement, beyond the century,
a calling across dreams,
as if asked to make haste just out of sleep.
I knelt and waited.
The voice that found me gave the news.
Up flew the bees toward his orchards.


From Trapeze by Deborah Digges. Copyright © 2004 by Deborah Digges. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.



12 thoughts on ““Telling the Bees” by Deborah Digges

  1. teresaevangeline

    This is excellent. I’ve read it three times. It’s one of those poems that move me in ways I cannot define. I’m so grateful I found your site. Wonderful selections.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s a personal story behind this poem. I’d planned to share it a while back, but the the hurricanes hit and then Vegas and it just seemed to selfish to focus on “me” at the time. But there’s a reason I found this poem…and there is significance to the title. I may yet still share later this week or next.

      This one does seem to dig a little deeper with each read, doesn’t it?

      Grateful our paths crossed! I don’t advertise, I don’t do Facebook, i barely do twitter, I don’t post a ton…. so it makes me happy when people find the site on their own or through the kindness of friends. It’s almost as if the fates led their way, or maybe a very strong thread. 😉

      Liked by 4 people

      1. teresaevangeline

        I’d love to hear the story … when you’re ready. I don’t do FB either and, as you might know, have left Twitter. So glad I followed your site. There were some good things I found somehow on Twitter and your site is one of them. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I hadn’t realized you left Twitter until you said so. I hope it wasn’t under bad circumstances. I like Twitter, but only when I keep a safe distance from it (if that makes sense). I tend to use it as an occasional resource, not as a social media site. But oh how it tries to suck one in… 🙂

        Are you actively writing? I saw your blogspot (?) blog, but it looks like you may be on WordPress now? You had (have) some beautiful poetry. ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Telling the Bees by Deborah Diggs | Beekeeping365

  3. teresaevangeline

    I didn’t leave under bad circumstances just felt it was time to go. I’m still writing and posting occasionally on my blogspot site but opened a wordpress some time ago to communicate more easily with others who use it. I’m still trying to find a balance with computer time. 🙂


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