POETRY
Honeyguide
Rose DeMaris

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Men trill their tongues and we come undulant through sky
             to lead them to the hiding place only we can see, secret


chamber in the baobab’s trunk, our hearts like little windblown leaves
             at the sound of their enticing calls. Brrr-hum! Brrr-hum! Instantly


we fantasize hexagonal prismatic cells, just the way our fathers
             did, and their fathers too; this ritual’s been ours for about a million


years. We perch, pink beaked, to watch them raise the smoking pole
             and climb, watch them cut the wild hive, as beloved watches lover


carve initials into bark with the same synthesis of sweet and rough
             that’s underlying all of life—beginning on the day we hatch


and kill the lesser nestlings, then thrive and grow to help
             the human being hunt his honey. The bees are dazed, air ghostly


with wildflower breath, clouds so still and formal, as if witnessing
             what’s holy, the hour of intersection for all these facets of creation:


us and them; insects, nectar, fire, song and tree; the viscous gold

             that drips out of the place where we converge, one of many

 

fated wounds in this unending mystery. The men, happy, fill their jars
             but leave us with the comb, an architecture we digest. This is how


we help ourselves. We fall upon our share, gorge before they even turn
             their backs. We guide for trade, not for free: we do it for the wax.

Rose DeMaris’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Los Angeles Review, Image Journal, Roanoke Review, Asymptote, Qu, Vassar Review, Big Sky Journal, The Fourth River, Cold Mountain Review, Pine Row Press, and elsewhere. A California native, she spent many years in Montana and now lives in New York where she’s completing an MFA in Poetry at Columbia University. It’s possible that the Greater Honeyguide has been helping people find honey in Africa for as long as 1.9 million years. rosedemaris.com / IG: @rose.demaris