A night-time blackness masks the wall
where the painting of five pears hangs.
Though I can’t see it, I know where it is
in its wide, deep frame,
and though I should be sleeping,
and my eyes stay closed,
the still life awakens –
even that dab of red on the tender skin of one pear,
five yellow-green tilting, stemmed fruits
rearranging themselves with care as trio and pair,
leaving a narrow avenue of cloth between them,
a cloth, simply purple from a distance,
despite all its complexity of color,
and in the left lower corner, name and date spiral into place.
What I am seeing then in the darkness must be
how the painter saw in the attic’s north light
before she took a step forward, brush in hand,
When the bees began to appear,
in clusters of 2 or 3, inside the house,
he comforted her and made her laugh,
telling her that some say these royal messengers
are sent to a family that is fractured,
more steeped in discord than in harmony,
to help reset its wayward course.
As the summer heat wanes,
a spirit of cooperation and the sweetness of unity
waft from their wings, settling on a chosen few, some say,
so that they may replicate abundance and industry in their own lives.
The fact that the bees are groggy and stumbling,
from unfortunate and fatal encounters with sprays and bombs,
makes their determination to heal this one family
all the more moving.
When the bees are gone,
and nothing has changed,
it will be as expected and consoling in its way.
Bees are born from tears, some say.
Jan C. Grossman’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Salmagundi, Poet Lore, Poetry East, Potomac Review, Slant, The Midwest Quarterly, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Atlanta Review, Third Wednesday, THINK, Tampa Review, and The South Carolina Review, among other journals. She is the recipient of a 2017 Plainsongs award.