Bee Season

          I dream of bees when I drip honey
          onto challah and apple slices. Season of harvest
          moon, new school year. Time of reckoning:
          Has enough grain has been stored for winter?

          Later is a moment poised like a diver
          over a pitch-black abyss. I wonder how we bear
          all this repetition. A perennial forecast of repeats:
          jack–o-lanterns, latkes, dyed eggs, mammograms.

          I bake honey cake for Rosh Hashanah.
          When darkness saturates winter I think about suicide.
          I always do, and I know that I always do, and so I know
          it will slowly ebb and I will outwit it. Again.

          I fast on Yom Kippur, but forget to pray.
          Drunk, I confess sins I did not commit.
          I place a stethoscope on every heart,
          grant clemency to every penitent.

          I will retire in seedtime. At Pesach.
          Will I be like one of those men who retire
          and find themselves at a loss for meaning?
          Who fail quickly, die shortly?

          I’m searching for the layer of sticky sweetness
          that is so hard to find. Not this honeycomb
          ensconced in a wrecking ball, these seismic shifts,
          this loss of habitat. The disappearance of bees.

Risa Denenberg lives on the Olympic peninsula in Washington state where she works as a nurse practitioner. She is a co-founder and editor at Headmistress Press, publisher of LBT poetry. She has published six collections of poetry, most recently slight faith (MoonPath Press, 2018).