Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

The Bee’s Gospel

Ladan Osman

I enter a household wherein a woman uses stamps with blooms:
zinnias, aster, primrose. She adorns envelopes,
remembers her mother’s destroyed marigolds,
and grieves for them again.

At night a man puts his palm on her temple,
then her crown, unfolding meadows,
and every fruit and root.
I sit on the headboard and wait for permission to enter.
It is an expanding paradise.
Every thing knows its relationship
to light, to darkness, pursues various means to the same ends,
and his hand contains the aliving spice
of a room full of palms.

He tells her she is the seasons.

He pursues a single lyric,
wears several musks at once.

In the morning she splits a dense fruit.
Within it are chambers, combs.
She extracts seeds on the table, spends songs cleaning them.

My guardian waits outside the window.

I like how this man looks when he offers things,
every object a gift: cup, washcloth, his scented
chest and temples. I don’t know which one
is the queen, so I fly between them both.
And the backs of their necks are the same.
They are mirrors:
mirrors facing each other across a well-lit room.
I am in a frenzy.
I visit a cup whose color I can’t resist:
summer sky after three nights without rain.
It contains a sweet fluid.
I don’t know the name of this nectar.
It causes me to forget.
I have to be near it, on his knuckles, on his shoulders.
What does it want, she asks.
It doesn’t know, he says.
What does it know of what humans made?
Then he’ll go, and tell the others. He’ll recite.
They try to kill me, not sincerely.
I drop from ceiling to floor until they too are exhausted.
She opens a window. I stay, parse their fragrances
as she parsed those seeds,
I want him to lie with her again
show me multitudinous gardens.

My attendant can wait no longer.

I salute her bare right breast,
and watch all her skin prickle,
and her scalp change color,
and fly out.