a poem a day for a year #58

my grandmother's old neighbor
wore blue jean overalls and smoked pipes
he smelled like dust
his name was Hutch

he's been dead longer than any of my children have lived
he is punched into my memory
with all good things
like old paper
birthday parties
sitting on my father's shoulders
fat baby legs
coal slack piles
the fog on the southeastern Ohio hills
soft hands


he wore all the bee tending bits and bobs
veils like a mystery
and he told me stories
because as a child
I would listen to all the things people told me
lay on his large work boots
like a pet on his sun porch thick with pipe smoke
curling up up up in the air
I would listen as if I knew someday
I would write it all down
I would cup it like water


he told me that his bees had to be told
expected to be told
all the parts of a family
the births and deaths
and lovers and demons
and things that create mythology

else they would leave
go away

I go right out back there little girl
and I tell my bees things
telling bees

I would listen until my grandmother
would kick at me with her soft shoe
her tea cup cold
her talking with his wife finished
tell me to gather up
time for supper
and we would walk across the old dirt road
and I would always wish to have my own bees
a hive of secrets
an apiary of truth
a sticky soft place
to belong