The Gardener and the Garden, (Eight)
By Phoebe Reeves
On the sidewalk, I bend to touch the body
of a bumblebee, only to find it’s the hollow
velvet of a spent magnolia flower. I see them
everywhere now, climbing into wilted morning glories,
napping on the rudbeckia, sharing the buddleia
with a hummingbird, four tiger swallowtails,
a red admiral, and a hummingbird moth,
each circling, weaving, ducking in to drink
from a tiny cup and bobbing back out again,
an infinitely complex maypole dance
in which food and fertility are one.
One bumblebee lumbers into the wide eye
of the male squash flower and stumbles around,
wallowing in the stamens like a toddler
having a meltdown in the cereal aisle.
She rights herself, wanders out, goes
straight to the female flower, incipient squash
already bulbing out behind the blossom,
and crawls her way in, an unlikely Cupid.
In three months, when I pick the golden butternut
from the fallow vine, when you are
sleeping in the monochrome of November,
I will remember her. I will remember how
I wanted to stroke her softness with the tip
of my finger, feel her shape under my skin,
lick my finger and imagine how it would be
for her to enter me and bring me
what I need to set fruit before I die.
Phoebe Reeves earned her MFA at Sarah Lawrence College, and teaches English at the University of Cincinnati’s Clermont College in rural southern Ohio. Her poems have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Forklift OH, Phoebe, and Best New Poets 2018.