by H.B. Asari in Issue Sixteen, July 2024

We start first with the honeycombs
as babies, slipping whole past
our gummy mouths and tiny throats.
The sepsis is our insides preparing us
for the life ahead.

When our tiny bodies spasm & still,
we are weaned on ichor & ambrosia.
Six drops on our swollen tongues,
so we teeter always on the edge
of deathless & dying, so the engine of our bodies
might remember the taste,
hold the ghost of it until we are culled
to produce.

I remember my first bee,
thrumming past my lips like a song,
bruising itself senseless
against the supple sanctum of my mouth
until dazed & urged on by the wave of saliva,
slunk down my throat.

My bee was my first friend, it’s confused,
constant buzzing a secret language
only I understood, it’s steady thrumming
a lullaby.

We apiarists are a lonely bunch –
sequestered since infancy
from others who might steal
our focus, feed us
lies of a different life.

Bee after bee I did my duty.
& at my ceremony did my veins not seep amber,
molasses slow? & every year since
until there is nothing
to give.

When I die they will rise
from my throat like a horde
of flies and suffocate at their first taste
of air, fluttering down
to paint my corpse a pietá.

Blessed are we who do the holy work
of hell. Blessed are our stung insides
& bleeding mouths. All that swallowed
blood that makes a river in our bellies.
& our dry, desert veins & dessicated
hearts spouting sand from all its holes.

Blessed are we the beekeepers
seated at the right hand of gods & the left
hand of demons. Blessed is our suffering.
Blessed is our sacrifice.

© 2024 H.B. Asari

H.B. Asari

H.B. Asari is a Niger Deltan poet currently exiting her Fleabag era and entering her Elle Woods era. Her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize; shortlisted for the Climate Change Poetry Prize 2022 and won the Stephen A. Dibiase Poetry Prize; and has appeared in Ake Review, Fantasy Magazine, FIYAH and Consequence Forum. You can find her occupying the double reality of not wanting to be found but having an Instagram as @draft_oroguitas.

Poetry by H.B. Asari
  • Apiary