Bee’s Tongue by Joanne Clarkson

I walked a hallway twice a week
those months of autumn. And each time,
I passed the framed photo of a honeybee
on the lip of a foxglove
her long filament of seldom seen tongue
thinner than thread, curved
like the frond of an early spring fern.

And each visit, someone
pointed it out as if we both saw it,
that blurry vision, for the first time
distraction from what waited
in the hospice room ahead.

I once asked a friend, a botanist,
how to locate the heart of a flower,
focus of life force, antiphon
of time. Anatomy of beauty
not hers to explain. And once I felt

the pulse within a fir, my hand
flat against its rough, vibrating bark.
I put my fingers to my own wrist
to assure a different tempo,
the tree much slower in its somber knell.

And maybe this encounter proved
that the low vegetable thrum
is everywhere, undetected except
by the tongue of a bee, in the hall
that is prelude to silence.

— from Juniper Volume 6, Issue 3