In black veiled hat and canvas gauntlets
Jean Paucton, seventy, climbs the baroque stairs
of the Palais Garnier opera house
to his rooftop apiary.
The theatrical prop man studied beekeeping
at the Jardin’s venerable institute
then hauled onto the seventh floor ledge
his five weathered crates
swollen with honey, nearly a thousand pounds a year.
“The bees make an impression, do they not?”
And you, dear poet?
Your little apiary of simile and syntax—the busy bite
that separates truth from Truth?
Do you not weary of the student manuscript,
that makes elegance
but does nothing to sting cousin or twin? You
who do not flinch in or outside your own sweet studies?
The husband’s soft skin? The vial of antidote?
It’s a sadistic occupation, is it not?
Whether carried off to heaven or abducted then raped
the word conveys transport
and for the great gray owl,
renouncing the belt of spruce in the far north
to follow the red-backed vole.
It’s an irription of historic proportion
so much so that the low-flying hunters
are colliding with vehicles—
a different transport than rapt or rapture
unless one is a scientist or birder
capturing import as it migrates
Literally with rodents, but suffering
a tendency toward the rapacious
which I think was M’s concern
when he asked at an Asian bistro
my thoughts on the proximity of climax to heaven.
I don’t understand space—the emptiness,
the distance measured in light.
Take the protostar: I can’t grasp
how clouds of dust and gas can collapse
then suck up more stuff and expand
to over twenty times the size of our sun.
In all this heat and shadow
where did mother disappear
after the car crash? Where
is my daughters’ grandmother
since they’ve learned there is no heaven—
except for needle and pine?
What kind of astral influence is it
where in varying degrees of reversal
a thing breaks down
yet shows no sign of ceasing?
And what now is the nature of her form?