Saturday, August 8, 2015

Poem of the Day: "Midsummer Night's Bees" by Carol Hamilton, Poet of the Month

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present "Midsummer Night's Bees" by Carol Hamilton, Poet of the Month.  Ms. Hamilton will also be serving as the guest judge for the Songs of Eretz Poetry Award Contest, which will run from September 1 to October 15, 2015.  A detailed biography of Ms. Hamilton may be found here:  The contest guidelines may be previewed here:

Midsummer Night's Bees
Carol Hamilton

Shortest night, St. John's Eve,
he Patron Saint of Bees. I arrived
on Acoma at the dawn of his day.
A young guide walked me around
the primitive, mesa-top village,
showed the desert-rock reservoirs
and the outhouses at the four corners.
We were trailed by sounds
of battery-powered radios
seeping out of adobe homes.
The huge beams of the high-ceilinged,
dirt-floored church stretched above us.
Men had dragged them there from afar
on a long ago faith-filled pilgrimage.
Preparations were underway
for celebrations later when I would be
on the road again, absent from the sacred.
I should have stayed and prayed
for the bees. They have abandoned me
again this year, my tomatoes,
my cucumbers, zucchini, and I pollinate
with a little paint brush. The bees know
that I love them, and they should do
their little travel dances to lead
their fellow hunter-gatherers to me.
Last year we lived in a miracle,
bees of every kind here with me
under the arched trellis of cucumber vines.
We hummed together and gave thanks
for bounty all summer. But now
they have forgotten me again.
The ancient rituals will go on
today at Acoma without me,
and I am sure the honey bees
are busy, dancing directions
today in someone's garden
even as I sit here. Now I ask St. John
if the Mead Moon of this month
is too late, too late for their dance
to tattoo out directions to my garden.
The men of Acoma faith-lifted and dragged
heavy loads to fruition. All I ask for
is a few well-directed little steps.

Poet’s Notes:  For me, much that I love and discover in poetry has to do with the connections life hands us as one idea stirs memories and interesting naming and sounds and unexpected associations. The desert southwest is a mysterious and evocative place for me, with its many religious and mystical cultures mixed together in a way that seems magical. The land itself reminds me always of how long this earth has been changing, and of how fleeting and fragile our lives.

Bees are important to me, because when they do not come to my garden, I have to pollinate my vegetables by hand. The fact that St. John was the saint of the bees stirred many memories of times in the desert, and I also love the various names given to the moon’s phases by tribal peoples.

Editor’s Note:  The theme of this poem is timely, as there is currently a shortage of bees in the United States due to the spread of Colony Collapse Disorder and other causes"Midsummer Night's Bees" was originally published in Fiction Week Literary Review.  For about Acoma, see

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