Too Many Have Died
July 6, 2007

A total of 66 soldiers have died trying to keep the peace in Afghanistan. This may seem silly, and old fashioned, but I think of them as 66 potential farmers lost. They could have been just about anything: engineers, librarians, nurses, foresters, musicians, plumbers, teachers. They could have been beach bums, grill cooks, posties, brewers. They could have been beekeepers, beespeakers, healers, or writers.

Dear bees, bring the girls and boys home, bring them back alive.

In the Air

I watch the honeybees at UBC Farm
as they are besieged by wasps.
Yellow jackets and bald-faced hornets
dive-bomb the guardians of the hive.
Guard bees check pheramone ID:
"Under the circumstances lineups are inevitable,
your patience is appreciated."

Violence is in the air,
acrid with the scent of decaying leaves
and nothing left for the wasps to lose.
On the dry, brown grass a hornet devours the severed abdomen of a bee,
driven mad by the promise of sweet nectar deep inside her honey stomach.
Yellow jackets carry off corpses as large as their own bodies,
for one of the last feasts before the frost.
Rodent spies scuttle in the crackling brush,
a pileated woodpecker opens fire on a dead tree.

Later, I watch the freckled beekeeper scrape wax from the frames,
the air in the farm center is filled with the scent of rich wildlflower honey.
"Poor bees," she says. "They have enough to fight, with disease and the mites."

I heard it on the radio: last night three Canadian soldiers died,
and six of them wounded in Afghanistan.
"We are trying to help innocent citizens of this country, the Commander says.
These people just want to complete their harvest in peace."

I think of my great Grandpa Dean in Nebraska after the Great War,
fighting wind, drought, grasshoppers, fever;
searching the sky for the damp scent of hope,
wasps sound like screaming bombs.

LDW Sept 2/06