national anthology of the best undergraduate writing 2011
Honorable Mention in Poetry

To Keep Bees

Abigail Lee  • 
University of Virginia

I think I’d like to keep bees—

however much bees can be ‘kept.’

Like a kept woman maybe

they could bring a sweet sharp pleasure

with a constant stretching, sensuous

ache of uncertainty.

So I’d need an orchard

where I could line their white boxes

under the branches knotted like

my mother’s knuckles,

thick from years of quiet work,

and I’d need a kitchen window

squared above a thick porcelain sink

where I could stand and watch them—

a hundred honeybees dragging

nectar from downy flowers,

nursing their children with liquid gold—

loving the light that

transforms ditches into long mirrors

strung out to reflect the clouds.