Cleaning the Hive
May 30, 2007

Last night, as I was sleeping, I dreamt--marvelous error! that I had a beehive here inside my heart. And the golden bees were making white combs and sweet honey from my old failures.

--Antonio Machado

Unacknowledged pain comes to the surface sooner or later. The time comes when the hive must be cleaned. Not just the minor nectar spills and errant pollen grains, but a real thorough scraping out of the old wax and insect debris. We all carry invisible pollen baskets of unresolved pain and bitterness. The time comes when we have to do the dirty work--face the pain and clean it out as best we can.

I am tidying up my son's toys and listening to the sounds track of Little Odessa--haunting Russian choral music--music akin to the ancient songs of bees. My body gives in to sobs of stored emotion and my tension mixed with the tension of the city too busy to acknowledge its own collective pain.

The trouble isn't making poems, the trouble's finding somebody who will listen to them.

--The Bat Poet, Randall Jerrell

That's the way it is for poetry and performance art--creating it year after year, writing poetry, drawing out performance ideas and visions--that's the easy part. Finding the gig, the venue, and the audience is the hard part. I have a lot of sadness from the struggle to be a working artist.

A performance I went to the other day re-surfaced the image of my grandfather, whom my family nursed for many years after a severe stroke. We never talked about the pain and suffering he caused and what a burden he was on the family. We finally buried him when I was seven, but the fear of having to deal with injury and aging haunts my family to this day. I realized I am afraid of taking on the role of the nurturer and caregiver, worried that I will not be strong enough, good enough, and calm. It's not that I haven't been nurtured myself--au contraire--perhaps I was nurtured so much that I never learned to do it to myself. I don't know.

So I've decided to collect gestures of nurturing--recipes for caregiving, paying close attention to how others do it so I can grow into the role of a better caregiver myself. In the meantime, I can acknowledge my fears and do my best to clean out the debris that clogs up my heart's ability to give. This way healing comes. All your sad or merrying, remember to tell the bees.

Speaking of healing, for those who are worried about our bees in peril, why not plant herbs that help the bees to heal themselves? In an article for the Alternative Nature online Herbal Heather called "Herb Gardening for Bees", Heather Apple writes:

"I did some research to discover which herbs were especially beneficial to bees. These include aromatic herbs such as lavender, rosemary, thyme, sage, bee balm (bergamot), hyssop, anise-hyssop, basil and marjoram; wild herbs such as Motherwort, catnip and purple loosestrife; bitter herbs such as southernwood, wormwood and rue; nectar rich herbs such as clover and alfalfa; all the mints; the Borage family; and the rose family. I had already known that bees loved Borage and I had planted it among my squashes, cucumbers and melons in order to attract bees for pollination. Now, I planted patches all over the garden, making good use of the plants that had self-seeded from the previous year.

I also carefully noted the blooming periods of all the herbs, flowers, weeds, and flowering shrubs and trees on our property. Over the next couple of years I planted additional varieties to assure that there was an uninterrupted and rich banquet of blossoms from the first crocuses in spring, all through the summer, to the crisp days of autumn when bees are immobilized by the cold and no longer able to work."

See the complete article here: www.