The Existence of Other Things

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Art by Candice Hartsough McDonald. Used by permission.

I am Deborah.

Named after a woman who lived

thousands of years ago.

Sage, prophet, tribal mother.

Her tale anomalous,

her voice a string Yahweh strummed

undeniably in desperate times.

The impending story unfurled before her

as familiar as the line on her palm,

insistent as the blood of afterbirth.

She was not your typical judge.

 

Deborah means “little bee”

and “seeking one.”

Some bees are social,

form hives, assign tasks,

share the burden of re-creating the world,

flower by flower,

tree by tree,

driven by hidden forces

to seek the sweetness of many kinds and

participating in the alchemy

of a deeper, richer sweetness

that blesses the world.

 

The bees I was not taught to admire

or even honor

are solitary,

burrowing deep for dwelling,

free of the hive,

bound to the quest,

independent in the

interdependence that

sustains everything.

 

There are many kinds of transformation.

 

I used to settle for nectar

from the closest blooms.

It was sweet enough,

and everyone was happy with

the abundance I labored to offer.

But as I made my flighty patrol

I often caught sight of

flashes of color beyond.

I could feel the low hum

of kindred seekers

and I wondered at the

wideness of the fields

the profile of the horizon

the existence of other things.

 

One day the wind caught me unawares

and I was buffeted

not unwillingly

to another meadow where

there were new colors

and the old ones too

and although I have a bee’s sensible

sense of direction

I lost the way back anyway.

 

This nectar, this sweetness has an edge

that cuts through the newfound wonder

to something more earthy and elemental.

I find myself manufacturing less while harvesting

more, at least for now,

noticing what is underneath and unblooming

and reliable, what has died to give new life,

what has been killed and is only loss.

 

My other namesake is calling me with

her sage fierceness, her stage whisper,

her tragic warrior spirit.

She has turned my gaze to others

living parallel questions,

producing a collective, insistent hum.

They are not hive bees either.

5 thoughts on “The Existence of Other Things

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