Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Bodyless Parts

Bodyless Parts

My heart is pale
as the daylight moon hiding
in the pines, trying to be full
with her south end sliced off;
a bent lamp to light
a ghost's foot.

My mind's black as soil
where skeletal leaves fall
from century's last rose, in the
color of memory wisteria blue, or
lavender as lamb's ear in thick sticky spikes
that trembled like your hand
with the loving of bees.

I would tell them you've gone
put out like a lamp, or a moon
snuffed to new;  bees like to know
but they're husks in their hives
with their fat queen's stilled hum,
legs stiff as your lips so unsaved
by sacrifice, or perpetual labor
deep in the rose hips.

My eyes drip a mirror of scarlet birds.
I'll watch through the glass til all of us die
til our pink watery ghosts flow up and fall,
haunts with the bees in rose sunset sky.

~January 2020

posted for Ghosts

Process notes: 
1) It's a longstanding tradition dating as far back as medieval times for beekeepers to go to their apiaries and inform the bees when someone in the household died so the bees could also mourn.  
2) There is currently a worldwide pandemic of honey bee deaths, thought to be caused by pesticides and resultant weakening of the bees' immune systems. 8 species of bees are on the endangered species list, but not as yet the honey bee. Nonetheless, there have not been any honey or bumblebees in my own garden for at least the last three or four years.

Images: Wisteria and Bee, © Ohara Koson, 1930, Public Domain
Weird Sky, 2015 ©joyannjones


  1. Oh, I feel this poem. So moving, Joy, the trembling hand, the loving of bees, the loved one a light put out like a lamp or a moon. And, especially amazing: "My eyes drip a mirror of scarlet birds." I love the tradition of letting bees know when someone has died. And I HATE all the pesticides threatening their aurvival and their necessary work. Thank you for speaking for them, my friend.

    1. Thank you, dear Sherry. You are a far more tireless advocate for all the little live things than myself, and I thank you in turn for that, and for all you do.

  2. The penultimate stanza spoke to me the most strongly, with its sacrifice and labor seeming to harvest or lay by so very little, or maybe nothing but a ghosty echo of what once lived and hoped and felt.The poem makes me think of something there, but hollowed out, a hive with a dead queen, a diminished moon during daylight. A pang for something that used to be or should be more than the suggestion of itself that it has become. And yeah, the bees--I se so few of them anymore and the ones I do see are bumblebees, never honey bees anymore.

    1. Thanks Shay, for getting it. It's sad for me, not having the bees. They used to throng my herb and flower beds, so much so that I had to transplant several things further from the walkway to avoid riling them up. Now it's all wasps and moths and ants.

  3. Ghosts appear more and more frequently in my poems; if they are lightning rods for calibrating loss, then, like dreams, they are more deeply imbued or seeped in absence, though their appearance takes so many of the images cultivated in this poem -- a moon by day (perfect) lopped off by the emptying phase (yes again); falling petals of the rose which did not bloom into this century, the rainy pane of tears and, of course, those "pink watery ghosts" which "flow up and fall." All of it a ruined Japanese landscape of an elegy for vanished bees. They aren't named til the end which is perfect, because their ghosting have everything to do with what we lost en route to the final stanza. And their death is centrally ours though we refuse mightily to accept that. On Kangaroo Island in Australia, a quarter of the Ligurian bee hives were lost to fire -- producers of the finest, sweetest strain of honey in the world -- and the green carpenter bee may have gone extinct, taking with them the spine of a living harmony. Sigh. Very well done, friend, what a joy to know Hedge is back.

    1. Yes, ghosting everything, the symbol of what is needed lost almost overnight...thanks for reading B, and for seeing ghosts with me.

  4. a bent lamp to light
    a ghost's foot - excellent writing! And that tradition is so poignant and so celebratory of the oneness of the planet.

    1. Thank you. Yes, that tradition is an example of how we once felt connected to the natural world.

  5. The mourning in this is so strong... and who should we morn with, when the bees are gone? We have less of bee-deaths (yet), but there is so much being lost without bees, apples and plums to mention a few. I have read that in China they have to have people to pollinate flowers to get any fruit.

    1. Hand-pollinating--only China may have the population to do that! Thanks, Bjorn, for your insightful reading.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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