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The sounds in this poem! I love its compactness and humming—its slender shape on the page, just like a tower of hive boxes. Bookended by two phrases that particularly sing—“lit hum” and “known oak”—this poem concentrates its gaze on the compelling paradoxes alive in our world, visible and audible in those very phrases. The hive box hums with an otherworldly aliveness that the speaker registers as light—it is simultaneously ordinary and extraordinary. The oak tree is clearly familiar to the speaker, and yet its proximity to the wonder and novelty of the bee hives exposes its transcendent nature, too. In the light of the hive, the tree is “risen / from its place.” In between these two arresting images, the speaker seems to receive a vision of her place in this mystery, this suspension between the divine and the daily—a division that finally turns out to be illusion. In this place, the “split panic” of a mother’s mind is no different from the intense purpose of the bees. Here, the “wild distance / folding” reveals that human work is not separate from the beauty of the natural world, whether we are walking the “vacation road” or back in the city.

—Melissa Reeser Poulin


“Hive Boxes” by Megan Snyder-Camp

Walking the baby
at noon along
our vacation road
I turned toward
a lit hum
animating old oaks
ryegrass salvia thistle
wild distance folding
six white boxes’
uncountable pale thoughts
measuring the air
our foreign bodies
nearly colliding
but clearer, wouldn’t—
not mine, hum
I heard only
when the baby
slept against me.
I was here
not to disappear
my poems waiting
in the city
these five days
with the children
spilling out eagerly
across the valley
upturning the pastures’
cold green body.
Someone else’s work
someone’s split panic
above the boxes
wild stitch work
the hive splitting
into mother
and mind,
known oak risen
from its place.

 

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The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Written by: Megan Snyder-Camp

Megan Snyder-Camp's first book of poems, The Forest of Sure Things, won the Tupelo Press/Crazyhorse Book Award. Recent work has been supported by a grant from the 4Culture Foundation, and recent poems have appeared in Southern Review and Poetry Northwest and on PBS NewsHour.

The above image is by Paul Pod, used with permission under a Creative Commons license.

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