Sometimes, it seems the only thing in the world that is without dark thoughts


by Mary Oliver

I do not know what gorgeous thing

The bluebird keeps saying,

His voice easing out of his throat,

beak, body into the pink air

of the early morning.  I like it

whatever it is.  Sometimes,

it seems the only thing in the world 

that is without dark thoughts.

Sometimes it seems the only thing

in the world that is without

questions that can’t and probably

never will be answered, the

only thing that is entirely content

with the pink, then clear white

morning and, gratefully, says so.

from Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver


and only their honey will survive

illustration by Kristina Closs of a gray and gold landscape with flowers framing a large centered golden moon that has bees within it. in the background are outlines of buildings and on the bottom half of the illustration is a honeycombed pattern that forms the terrain.
Art by Kristina Closs

Bees, Honeycombs, Honey

By Hayan Charara

Bees, thousands and thousands,
surviving in a hive
under the soffit; bees,
honeycombs, and honey,
and dampness, and old wood
sticky in the sunlight;

and the beekeeper’s hand,
carefully, and slowly,
vacuuming, and taking;
the bees tumbling, gently,
into the makeshift hive;
honeybees, and honeycombs,

and honey, glistening;
honey, the only food
that will not spoil; honey,
pulled from the pyramids,
still sticky, and sweet,
thousands of years later;

I may not believe, but
I want to; and the bees
before my eyes are now
disappearing; bees God
in the Qur’an inspired
to build homes in mountains

and trees; bees that built homes
in the trees near the grave
in Detroit; and the bees
in Jerusalem’s graves;
bees in every city,
and in every age; bees,

honey, and honeycombs,
through disaster after
disaster; bees building,
and scouting, and dancing;
bees mating, protecting,
and attacking; the bees

are now disappearing,
and dying; and the bees
the beekeeper cannot
save are dying but still
guarding the empty hive,
butting their heads against

my children, boys who will
grow to be men and build
their own homes, now dipping
fingers into honey
darkening on the ground;
they are dying; the hive

is gone; the queen is gone;
thousands and thousands, gone;
but the bees will come back,
and the hive will come back;
if not here, then elsewhere;
and there will be more bees

making more honeycombs,
more honey, and more bees;
and one day all the bees
will be gone; gone, and gone;
honeycombs, and houses,
gone; and trees, gone; oak, elm,

birch, gone; all trees, flowers,
gone; and birds, leaves, branches,
cicadas, and crickets,
grasshoppers, ants, worms, gone;
and cities, and rivers,
big cities, small cities,

big rivers, small rivers,
gardens, and homes; and homes;
the bees will be gone, and
only their honey will
survive, and we will not
be around to taste it.

from These Trees, Those Leaves, This Flower, That Fruit 

It isn’t ever delicate to live.

Dear readers,

I shared this Kay Ryan (1945-) poem in a missive to friends (some of you who are reading this again) earlier this month and wanted to post it here on the last day of 2022. As I wrote in that correspondence, it isn’t ever delicate to live, but it feels especially less-delicate these days, like we keep spinning our intricate webs as forces around us try to pull them down.

For me the only way forward is to think of what helps my inner arachnid build and rebuild, of what keeps the ropes strong, of what posts I can hang onto, of what inspires me to keep spinning the threads despite it all. There is, of course, labor involved, but this is the work that makes the heavy work lighter to bear.

Sharing poems with all of you is definitely one of those buoying, bolstering forces. Thank you for reading what I shared during National Poetry Month this year. I hope the threads of your life are holding up okay, and that in 2023 you find–and create–support and joy in this delicate web we’re all spinning together.

Art by Kristina Closs


From other
angles the
fibers look
fragile, but
not from the
spider’s, always
hauling coarse
ropes, hitching
lines to the
best posts
possible. It’s
heavy work
fighting sag,
winching up
give. It
isn’t ever
to live.