Telling the Bees About Friendship by Bruce Meyer
As boys, we collected fireflies
in Mason jars on summer nights,
hoping as we waited for dreams
in small rooms the shadows filled
we’d be granted the miracle of light.
In meadows or in pine groves,
glowings floated as if broken stars,
the summer heavy with secrets
the air dampened as we slept.
By morning, the fireflies were dead.
My friends blamed the preserving jars,
but keeping captured fireflies alive
was like failing to grasp a meteor,
their bodies lying legs up taught me
even light needs freedom to live.
Was Plato speaking of friendship
when a charm of bees sat upon his lips
and traced the outlines of honey
in his words? Friendship is the art
of resuming a conversation after years
of silence; the boys are old men now.
We meet in dreams among the dead.
They ask why we failed the fireflies,
how we lost their pip of magic
when life is held but never grasped.
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.