Meeting the Beekeeper

by Kelle Groom

He says yes, it’s sixty thousand
bees in one hive, but think of it as
one cell, like a cell in your body.
Like a man turned to stone
is one, and our smaller town
moving in the direction of the sun.
Paralyzed in an accident,
he’d stung his arm over and over,
a bee between his fingers
like an electric cotton ball,
a smarting peach, and the nerve
re-grew—he traced it, a red line
on a map. This summer, the bees
are drinking andromeda, honey bells—
three hives in our backyard.
Instead of talking, they dance:
the bee dance, wangle dance.
Kept inside a house, the respiration
of the bees gets heavier than air, a fire
extinguisher. Honey from gallberry
and palmetto is labeled wild because
no one wants to eat a jar of gall.
He sweeps his hands on the floor
of air below his heart
to show me how to calm down
because if bees sense alarm,
they put it out like a fire.