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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing May 2023
Beyond the Buzz, poems by Barbara Bald
Beyond the Buzz
The bush is old now, branches spindly like my arms,
bark peeling as parched skin.
Planted over 40 years ago, it’s lived through
one divorce, six family deaths, four dogs, four cats.
They call it an invasive now—honey suckle
that doesn’t belong here. But, the bees don’t mind.
Though many fewer, bumbles and honeys still visit,
still enter each pale yellow bloom as if it were a temple.
Once so many, their unified buzz became a hum
a prayer shawl that invited surrender.
Above, its leaves and delicate flowers form a high canopy,
memories and secrets sequestered in each blossom.
As a child I knew just how to pinch its sepal end,
how to grasp its thin filament with small fingers
and pull it ever so gently from the flower to find
and place the tiny bubble of nectar on my tongue.
I did not know about pistols and stamens then,
did not know about the birds and the bees, about loss.
Today I just listen to the hum, genuflect to time,
leave the sugar for the bees.
A Bee’s Perspective
They tell me I am not supposed to fly—
my body’s too fat, not aerodynamic in design,
but here I am, sitting on the lip of a snapdragon;
carried my plump self on lacy wings
that beat faster than you can count.
I always pause for a moment, rest, genuflect
before entering any fringed temple.
I stop to savor sunlight that streams opaquely
through soft stained-glass petals.
I am sorry you can’t follow, sorry
you can’t part the entry curtain of tiny threads,
feel silken hairs cradle your sides or marvel
at golden grains clinging to knobby stamens.
I am, of course, after sweet nectar, which I sip
as through a straw—pleasing as a host to the tongue.
I enjoy the wiggle through what must feel
like grasses tickling your toes.
Every bloom has such unique gifts,
different offerings that are hard to leave behind.
I sometimes linger longer than I should, lean against
a bulbous pistol, let pollen flour my fur like a blessing,
then….. carry it to other blossoms.
What I Loved Today
As the sickle moon
closes her eyes,
slides into silence,
dawn announces herself,
from their sleep.
I rise slowly
like the wind
answering the call
of the morning sun,
set out seeds
and dribble water
into a heated birdbath.
Ready for their day,
chickadees and titmice
arrive in splendor.
As they flutter in place,
dip again and again
for tiny sips,
every wing beat bedazzles,
lifts me to heights I crave.
I know I will forget
the flash of this moment,
push myself with to-do lists
and all-important projects;
I know chores will always
than this dawn chorus,
so for now, I allow myself to dally,
let every feather fill me
with the breath of earth,
my slippers wet with dew.
Another Way to Listen
They wave to you from the side of the road
like hitch-hikers flagging down a needed ride.
Thin-stemmed daisies nod their white crowns,
offer promises that he loves you… or maybe not.
Tall buttercups guarantee you’ll kiss a fellow, but
only if the yellow shadow’s just right under your chin.
Spired lupines whisper that Miss Rumphius
has been here, sewing seeds to add a touch of beauty.
Red clovers and white yarrow offer medicinal teas
and shade a tiny rose bush that escaped domesticity.
Purple Loosestrife with her prolific showy spikes—
she’s the one who moves-in where she’s not wanted.
It’s their wildness that calls to the heart,
their ‘nobody-asked-you-attitude’ that offers
a glimpse of freedom lost somewhere
in the grooming, lost in the cultivation of the soul.
Just an ordinary bench, a slatted affair,
it swings out over-looking the river.
Dangling from a massive white pine,
it watches eddies swirl below, skirt around
boulders perhaps eons old.
Beneath the water’s scrim, mermaid weed
and other green algae cling to stone, entice me
to reach down to touch them.
At a certain angle, sun-stars capture the eye,
encourage slow breaths, invite shoulders to soften.
I can almost see God from here.
That’s her picking up pebbles on the opposite shore.
Her, peeking from behind that arched white birch.
Her, whispering in the light spray of water on sand.
That might be her moving in the underbrush
where rabbit trails crisscross like strands of yarn.
I think I feel her in the touch of your hand
as you sit here beside me on this bench.
And yes, there, where the black bear
comes down the bank for a drink.
Yes, I’m sure that’s her.
© Barbara Bald
Barbara Bald is a retired teacher, educational consultant and free-lance writer. She has worked at the Frost Place in Franconia, served as outreach coordinator for NHPTV and volunteer read-ing and writing poetry with school-age children, adults. Her poems have been published in a variety of anthologies—most recently Covid Spring published by Hobblebush Press. They have also appeared in various journals including: The Northern New England Review, Avocet, Off the Coast, Silver Birch Press and The Poets’ Touchstone. She has two full-length books: Drive-Through Window, Other Voices/Other lives and a chapbook is entitled Running on Empty. Barb’s website is: https://www.barbarabald.com