What to Do When Bees are Few

by Penn Kemp


One bee, one clover

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee. / And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.

Bees are sadly far fewer now, dear Emily Dickinson, but
these days it will take more than revery to save our planet,
our province, our town. What is right action? What follows
hope? We write protest letters to ban roundup. We march.

What to do when garden centres sell ‘bee-friendly’ plants
laced with hazardous insecticide levels? We search for
neonicotinoid-free nurseries that offer pollinator-friendly  
wildflowers, native old-fashioned flora—late blooming
asters, brown-eyed Susan, goldenrod and wild bergamot.

We are entangled in the consequence of folly and greed.
Where do we take refuge? A walled garden, an open field?
Where do we find ourselves, our freedom, in the ongoing
lurch between our own restoration and public offerings?

We bear witness. We cannot be excused until we change
the narrative. We retrieve all the paradox of multiplicity.
We learn to live with the many complexities of community,
whether wild or sustained, whether municipal or country.

We learn respect. We learn to listen. We learn when to be
still and when to move. Revery will no longer do but it’s
a start, the necessary pause before action we can trust.
We call on the Goddess to guide us. We call Demeter here.

Penn Kemp

Penn Kemp has been active in Canada’s literary scene since her first publication of poetry, Bearing Down, by Coach House (1972). As well as editing Canada’s first anthology of women’s writing, IS 14 (1973), she wrote the first play produced in Canada about abortion rights. She was London's inaugural Poet Laureate and the League of Canadian Poets’ Spoken Word Artist, 2015. Multimedia works are up on https://riverrevery.ca. Her 2018 poetry books are Local Heroes (Insomniac Press) and Fox Haunts(Aeolus). www.pennkemp.weebly.com.

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