Poetry Sunday: Bees of Eleusis

Bees of Eleusis

BY FRANZ WRIGHT

Unless a grain of wheat goes into the ground and dies, it remains nothing but a grain of wheat.
—John 12:24

The ingredients gathered, a few small red tufts of the dream spoor per sheaf of Demeter’s blonde wheat, reaped in mourning, in silence, ground up with the pollen and mixed into white wine and honey. These stored forms of light taken under the ground. Taken by mouth. First those who by birth hold in secret the word; then placed on the tongues of the new ones, into whose ears it is meant to be whispered. Word murdered, forgotten so long ago, placed as a kiss on the lips of the soon-to-be-no-longer breathing who mean to enter death with open eyes, with mouths saying Death, what death? We have no word for it in our country where the bride of a brighter oblivion reigns. Not the purple-haired god but the child queen, the raped girl, come back from the dead hand in hand with the child she conceived there, returned in a resurrected virginity, wind through green wheat. Present-day site of a minor refinery in Christ. Although by the tenth generation already the children of light (“in their dark garments”) had trampled and smashed and generally raped the two thousand years of this precinct and its holy meal, intolerable mirror. Men who’d designed and bowed down to a law derived from the sayings of one who appeared here to say that the law is abolished, it is too late, all that is over with. Men who bungled their way through the next eighteen centuries before finally descending into the earth themselves, and what they found there they used, and we thank you for destroying the destroyers of the world. And here at the end this is as good as any other entrance to the underplace, journey of the fallen leaf back to the branch, to the bees of Eleusis among olive blossoms, untroubled among crimson wildflowers. Four thousand years later: same flowers, same bees.

Poetry Sunday: from Las piedras del cielo/ Skystones

from Las piedras del cielo/ Skystones

BY PABLO NERUDA

X

I invite you to topaz,
to the yellow
the bees,
and the lump of honey
in the topaz,
to the gold day
and the familial
drone of tranquility:
here is a minimal
church, built in a flower
as the bee builds, as
the planes of the sun or the leaf
in autumn’s yellowest profundity,
a tree, incandescently
rising, beam over beam, a sunburst corolla,
insect and honey and autumn, all
transformed by the salts of the sun:
essence of honey, the tremulous world
and the wheat of the sky
that labored to accomplish
this sun-changed, at rest in the pallor of topaz

Chlo sells pink lemonade

What I Learned at Chlo’s Lemonade Stand

You remember the Brazee bees, don’t you, Reader? According to Deb (and to me, and to everyone else we’ve let anywhere near any of the honey), the Brazee bees have produced the season’s most delicious honey. Bar none.

But this post isn’t necessarily about honey…it’s about last night’s “Bees and Beethoven at Brazee” Party of Note to benefit the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Sandy Gross, the owner and brain and heart and nerve behind the wonderful Brazee Street Studios asked me to share a little bit about honeybees with the party goers, and I was happy to do it. It was delightful…perhaps because we gathered outside in the Prairie area beneath a rising blue moon and we talked about bees. After that, we visited the two Brazee hives before watching JW May create a gorgeous honeybee in the new hot shop glass-blowing studio.

It was a sweet night…all the hor d’oeuvres were ever-so-slightly drizzled with honey produced by the Brazee bees; Sandy’s family and I dressed in yellow-and-black bee-appropriate attire; and I met some really nice new people. It wasn’t boring as so many parties are.

Chlo sells pink lemonade

But I have to tell you, my favorite part of the night was discovering Sandy and John’s daughter’s lemonade stand. Chlo is in first grade this year, and from the moment I met her (in April, when we installed the bees), I liked her. You know how you do, Reader? Well, there she was last night, sitting perfectly on a little stool behind her pink lemonade. She’d strategically opened for business outside the big open doors of the hot shop from which billowed intense heat, and her sign read: Lemonade, 1 cent. Party goers stood in line for it.

I had no money in my pocket at this point, Reader…not even a single penny. And how do you ask for a nice glass of ice-cold lemonade without paying for it?! So I sat through much of the glass-blowing demonstration dreaming of pink lemonade. Seriously. At some point, Chlo came to me and asked me if I wanted a glass of lemonade. I confessed to her that all I could think about was pink lemonade. All night…pink lemonade in a clear cup. She poured a nice glass of it for me. The clear cup she gave me frosted with coolness. It was perfect…absolutely delicious…probably because she’d been so sweet to seek me out and offer it.

We visited. I told Chlo that I thought she was showing interest in becoming a business woman. She agreed. I asked her if she knew yet what kind of business she hoped to establish. And, Reader, do you know what she said? She sort of shrugged and said, “Lemonade?” She said it as if it were a question. And I thought, well, yes, why the heck not lemonade?! I don’t know of a single world-famous lemonade business, so it seems to me the field is wide open for a dynamo.

And I learned a great lesson from Chlo: Why always look to the future when you’ve got a great thing going on right this minute? And why seek to be a world-famous operation? Why not simply enjoy yourself as you provide lemonade to the thirsty people standing right in front of you at the moment, and let the rest take care of itself?

Chlo’s dad says she’s talked for some time about a lemonade stand. And there she was, making her dream a reality. As we talked, she asked her mother if she could sell lemonade at that spot on Saturdays; together, they worked out a plan: Yes, she could sell lemonade on Saturdays so long as an adult was with her. And she could sit right there at the entrance to the hot shop where there’s a steady weekend traffic of thirsty glass blowers and passersby—Chlo nodded as if to say, Yep, this is definitely gonna work out.

 

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Sandy Gross and John Hutton in honeybee party attire
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Her other shoe is a flower
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JW May's honeybee...blown in glass. (And broken. Occupational hazard)