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
burrowing deep for dwelling,
free of the hive,
bound to the quest,
independent in the
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
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.