The Skagit Valley Beekeeper

          for Jerry & Kathy Willins

At home my door looks out on a wild sea where boats come and go.
Here, doors looks out across miles and miles of blueberry bushes.
They make me think of Frost’s “Blueberries as big as your thumb”.
But it is only May, so early in season the bushes are all empty-handed.

Yesterday, sitting in a diner in Burlington, eating ham on rye,
a farmer slid onto the seat beside me. Wendell, the waitress called him.
“Goddamn cell phones,” he snarled, “they’re messin’ with my bees.
The signals have them so dizzy they couldn’t find a sunflower.”

He said it in a way that wasn’t funny, for here was a man
whose livelihood depended on a pollinating bee. “Now, Wendell,”
the waitress muttered, “don’t be bothering the preacher.”
“Sorry, sir, but Christ, I have to fly in bees from Alabama.”

And as we sat there in the silence of that Burlington afternoon.
the waitress counting bottles, Wendell eating fries,
I just prayed my cell phone, my bee immobilizer, would not ring,
not even with a buzz, buzz, buzz from you, to help pollinate our love.

by Tony Curtis

‘The Skagit Valley Beekeeper’ is copyright © Tony Curtis, 2011. It is reprinted by permission of Arc Publications from folk by Tony Curtis (Arc Publications, 2011).

Tony Curtis was born in Dublin in 1955. He studied literature at Essex University and Trinity College Dublin. An award winning poet, Curtis has published six warmly-received collections, the most recent of which was The Well in the Rain: New & Selected Poems (Arc, 2006). In 2003 he was awarded the Varuna House Exchange Fellowship to Australia. Curtis has been awarded the Irish National Poetry Prize. In 2008, Days Like These (with Paula Meehan and Theo Dorgan) was published by Brooding Heron Press. He is a member of Aosdána. You can read further selections from folk, the volume from which ‘The Skagit Valley Beekeeper’ is taken, on this page from Arc’s site.

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