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  • By Bruce Meyer


Girl Swing (1879) - Winslow Homer

The lavender fields are dotted

with white boxes squat as houses.

In his mesh veil, smoker handy,

hands gloved, he slowly removes

the upright tray patterned in perfect

hexagons of wax, lifting it gently

with a swarm on it as if a painting

come to life to speak of life.

He calls it the sweetness of being.

He explains why the hive spends

every moment of living daylight

to probe the deep scent of purple.

Honey has the taste of wisdom,

the reason I have come at sunset

with a need to know the work of bees,

hoping that just one word of truth

will be enough to satisfy my lips.

He tells me the best honey is love,

born from pleasure and hard work,

spooned upon my fingertip

as we stand at his kitchen table

and sample the labour of a day.

The sun is pressing on the horizon

and reminds me of my promises,

and the amber afterglow of words

I want to carry home and live by

because every waking moment

is spun clean from its beginning

and waits to be released from wax,

a promise freed from sincerity

when it is kept. This is not wisdom,

but the love of knowing its sting.

Bruce Meyer is author or editor of 64 books of poetry, short fiction, flash fiction, and non-fiction. He has had three national bestsellers in Canada, and was 2019 winner of the Anton Chekhov Prize for Fiction (UK) and the Freefall Prize for Poetry. He has recently been a finalist in the Bath Short Story Prize, the National Poetry Competition (UK), the Tom Gallon Trust Fiction Prize, the Carter V. Cooper Prize, and the Thomas Morton Prize for Fiction. He lives in Barrie, Ontario, and teaches at Georgian College and Victoria College at the University of Toronto.

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