WE WHO FEEL SMALL AND EXQUISITE WHEN WE LOOK AT THE SKY
The newsman says
the Perseid shower
peaks at eleven-oh-
nine tonight over
the radio waves
as we lie belly-up
on highrise roofs
before the pink-
skinned sun sets
underside the earth.
We yell back
what we will never
know and never match,
we will never make.
We open our
to the wind
and feel its
push our cheeks
to the rain
to let it pit
We let the arcing
we were born under
mark our years,
like hippie pagans
in the city summer heat.
We are the ones
into the heart
and we are not afraid
of seasons piling up
in the dirt underfoot,
of leaves clawing
on the wind.
WRITTEN AFTER FINDING THE HONEYBEES DEAD
We had bought two colonies last spring, nestled them in whitewashed wooden hives on a hill at the edge of a cedar forest. We watched them in May and June, in July, in August as they bred and spread themselves into the fertile landscape, furious with summer. When winter came, it was the coldest in thirty-two years, and a few million acres of farmland turned into tundra. We should have waded through shin-high snow in January, heaved a bale of hay out to the sleeping bees, packed it dense and high around the hive boxes, knocked the wind-sheared icicles off their ledges. We should have returned in February with reinforcements against the freeze, but we didn’t.
The last time I saw them was September, the air buzzed with warmth, with weedy prairie scent. I crouched near the hives and watched bees step foot by foot in and out of the bright, meager city we’d built for them among tall plains grasses, all budded—blazing star, goldenrod, feverfew, bluestem. A mourning cloak butterfly titled about on inky linen-like wings. We took several racks of honeycomb that day, relieved the bees of their months of labor. Many of them chased us a long ways down the county road, the racks shifting in our truck bed. At home, we seared the comb caps off with a hot blade, drained the honey into canning jars. I still have one, glowing like sun-struck amber in my cupboard.
You have bewildered into me.
I smell the softest square centimeters
of your body on the wind while I walk the docks
there between the dry aroma of fall
and the milk white scent of cold fog is your skin
though it’s possible I only smell it because I can see it
so clearly between the sheets
spread out like the mattress and wood floor below
and earth underneath cannot be peeled apart and
time couldn’t move you for all of its trying.
I see your lapis eyes pilfered
by crests of waves and the transitive churn of sea clouds
or even by the pearlescent halo of the moon
and I want you, I want it, I want it all, the dying leaves
and birthstone moon and a jar full of fog,
whispering waves with the illusive clouds up above
want to line it all up on the table or stack it all up
in your shape because I see now when you fell from me
you shattered into fine shining pieces,
shards of you piercing all parts of this seaside city and now
everything beautiful, shore to sky, scintillates of you.
Bio: Kelly Slivka is a writer and producer with a background in ecology. She received the Pearl Hogrefe Fellowship in Creative Writing from Iowa State University, where she earned her MFA.