The propitiate

There are two rows of box hives

And an alley between them  

And sometimes around dusk when 

The evening settles blue 

And the fieldgrass whispers 

In my place in this valley  

I come to walk the length of it 

And listen through my breathing 

For the hum on either side 

’Til the alleyway feels like 

The Bardo and I’m a bridge 

Because if I stretch myself 

I can reach and just barely  

Touch both sides of it at once. 

There’s this buzz I can feel 

Come into my fingertips 

When I press them to the wood, 

Should I set them gently there

And let them stay awhile,

And if I scrape its surface

With my fingernails or tap

Tenderly in petition

I receive an answering,

A hum louder than before

Then small footfalls on my skin

As each soft life finds a place

For itself upon my palm

Then beckons me to clutch.

Fire collects in my elbows

And the currents pool there 

Before vibrating my arms 

And shaking my shoulderblades  

With the tender violence  

Of a father come to rouse  

Me from some unbridled dream 

And I feel frequencies 

Clashing at their peaks in me 

And I hold my breath until 

The tides inside me go slack 

And settle in resonance

Somewhere soft within my chest  

Or my heart or whichever  

Muscles let me breathe deeply  

And taste the chlorophyll  

As it goes by on the breeze 

And then I find the stillness,

But it’s just as quick to go. 

Sometimes there’s a great horned thing

Gliding quietly above, 

Spotting mice by the moonlight,  

Casting shadows on the path;  

Sometimes I turn to see it  

And I pocket both my hands

With my arms pressed to my sides

So I might gain some comfort

From the burning coming back

And a semblance of defense.  

Sometimes there’s a man like me 

Further down the alleyway  

With his fingers on the hives

And sometimes he smiles at me,

Looking over his shoulder

As he’s stung and stung again, 

But mostly he stares ahead

As the shadows carry on

And I can see he trembles

As he leans into the night

And I know why he’s kneeling.

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