Poems by Kevin L. Cole

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Robbing the Hives

by Kevin L. Cole

From Canary Summer 2015

Kevin lives in the Lower Big Sioux Watershed, along the Big Sioux River in Southeastern, South Dakota.

With a smoker and putty knife, our father
Pried open the lids of the Langstroth hive-box,
The supers sealed tight by the good work of drones.

Even five feet away we could feel the heat
Of the hive and smell the heat of the honey
And of the bees’ three seasons of industry.

Our father, without gloves or mask, lifted
The nine frames one by one, gently shaking
Them so that the bees spilled back into the hive.

Then with the delicacy of a medieval scribe
Bearing a sacred illuminated skin,
He transferred the frames to my brother and me.

We were ignorant of Marathon then,
But we ran those frames to the kitchen
As if we held the city’s fate in our hands.

With a heated knife, our mother sliced across
The myriad, turgid cells, casting the cap-wax
Into Mason jars we wouldn’t open till winter.

Then, when the slinger was loaded, my brother
And I leapt on top of the kitchen table,
Clasped our hands over the cast iron handle,

Struggling to crank the reluctant basket.
But faster and faster we cranked, and laughing
Slung the honey from its cellular harbors.

Now, there is little want in this life—
Only that you were not there to peer over
The lip of the slinger and watch the honey
And afternoon light stream down the galvanized barrel.

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