Colony Collapse poems by Erin Lyndal Martin

Colony Collapse:  But There are Ordinary Deaths Too

You can tell me the bees are dying.  It is an epidemic. You unfold a map from somewhere. There are pictures of mites and watercolor washes to simulate climate change.  Surely some of these were just nature. Sift through.  Find me the ones that are different. The ones that are crisis.  Have you ever walked the gorgeous cemeteries in Normandie? Marble crosses, marble six-pointed stars, shriveled black cross-things for the Germans, one war we all shared.  The museum of the peace. The reflecting pool for Viet Nam. So far away.  In Hiroshima, anyone with something to remember can leave a memorial in a field. On American highways the same thing is true, but those flowers are smaller than SPEED MONITORED BY AIRCRAFT.  There is no memorial for deaths in flight, only wreckage.  Which brings me to the question of time.  How do we take an hour and create a plaque, a pool in which we stand and stand and then only see ourselves as we try to remember?  Jeremy, all these hours have been yours.  You’ve reflected in me, in, I’m sorry to say, stupid and painful ways.  I drink because I drank with you.  Therefore I’ve been half alive since then, this plain old half-death.  The regular, annoying kind that cuts into my skin but doesn’t drain me dry.


Colony Collapse: Are

You. Can Tell. Me. The Bees. Are. Dying. Are owns my thoughts. Dying possesses them as I shrink towards an ever-closure, as it microscopes the way I look at the bees that simply are not there. No bodies, no parenthesis of wing, simply gone. Are gone. Are not here. Death owns me in that it limits my thinking to the dimensions of gone and not gone, which brings me back to are. Each word a link in a chain I can’t break. Sometimes silver (here, alive, am fine) and sometimes rust but always a clinking that is not champagne but is a lens snapping into place, a lens that cannot hold this whole picture. Dying owns the are, pins it to the butterfly-wall like a grisly trophy. Nobody else can have it, even when your hands reach out like spider plants to touch another hand, when your face tilts toward another face.


Colony Collapse: First Crash

You can tell me the bees are dying. Why this hive I don’t know. There are others that should have higher exposure or exhibit more over symptoms (malaise, lack of production). By the time I got there, it was robbed out (mostly) but it appeared normal all through September. Why this particular hive I don’t know.  No bees, just wax bits. On eight brood frames, the dead ranged from twenty to a hundred. Mostly colored pupae or emergents. A few dead larvae, a few chalk but whiter, a few chewed, a few full of royal jelly (how can this be). Propolis around the flight holes, three inches deep. This was in the first week of October. I got the feeling that they dislike cleaning out the spoiled pupae, could they be full of virus? Can they sense this? Smell it? Formic acid is no guarantee. I believe the sickness is viral.


Colony Collapse: Deformed Wing Virus

You can tell me the bees are dying, but it’s the same virus I vector.  I was not ready to be a girl. My limbs were too much for this world. They work. They have never broken, but I am broken. I do not work. Somehow my parts do not come together. I think of the virus that thrums in the bodies of bees, thrums with the rhythm of the hive itself. I think of what I’ve read. An infected bee has less than 48 hours to live. Only the legs are devoid of the virus. 


Colony Collapse: Death Knell Sounds for Europe’s Beekeepers

You can tell me the bees are dying, but I know this. What I didn’t know is that it could happen so fast. You can tell me the bees are dying, but so are the beekeepers. What will they do in ten years’ time? Fifty percent lost in Slovenia, eighty in Germany. Why do we keep them. Why don’t we let go. Our sons and daughter will not pick up where our hands stopped. Our hands will not pick up where our hands stopped. Our hands stopped. The continent barely weakens beneath such stillness. But the fields yearn, the hands want, the beekeepers die and move on.

More poetry at Used Furniture.


  1. […] Lyndal Martin is a writer based in Madison, Wisconsin.  Her poetry has appeared in DIAGRAM, Used Furniture Review, diode, PANK, InDigest, The Offending Adam, Bat City Review, Gulf Coast, Cannibal, and many […]

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