I have been absent for a bit; apologies. This is for my father, who instilled in me a love of gardens and dogs; who entrusted his care to me – the middle daughter – for the past two years, making me a better person; and who passed early this morning after three days’ vigil.
Telling the Bees ~ by Deborah Digges
It fell to me to tell the bees,
though I had wanted another duty—
to be the scribbler at his death,
there chart the third day’s quickening.
But fate said no, it falls to you
to tell the bees, the middle daughter.
So it was written at your birth.
I wanted to keep the fire, working
the constant arranging and shifting
of the coals blown flaring,
my cheeks flushed red,
my bed laid down before the fire,
myself anonymous among the strangers
there who’d come and go.
But destiny said no. It falls
to you to tell the bees, it said.
I wanted to be the one to wash his linens,
boiling the death-soiled sheets,
using the waters for my tea.
I might have been the one to seal
his solitude with mud and thatch and string,
the webs he parted every morning,
the hounds’ hair combed from brushes,
the dust swept into piles with sparrows’ feathers.
Who makes the laws that live
inside the brick and mortar of a name,
selects the seeds, garden or wild,
brings forth the foliage grown up around it
through drought or blight or blossom,
the honey darkening in the bitter years,
the combs like funeral lace or wedding veils
steeped in oak gall and rainwater,
sequined of rent wings.
And so arrayed I set out, this once
obedient, toward the hives’ domed skeps
on evening’s hill, five tombs alight.
I thought I heard the thrash and moaning
of confinement, beyond the century,
a calling across dreams,
as if asked to make haste just out of sleep.
I knelt and waited.
The voice that found me gave the news.
Up flew the bees toward his orchards.
48 thoughts on “Telling the bees”
Audrey, I’m so very sorry to hear of your father’s passing. It’s wonderful that you were able to be there by his side to say goodbye and see him on his journey. If he was anything like you, I know he was special. Know that we are with you in thought and prayer during this difficult time. Hugs my friend.
Thank you, my friend. See you soon.
I am so very sorry, Audrey. He will never truly be gone as long as his memories fill your heart.
Then he will never be gone 🙂 Thank you.
I am so sorry to hear about the passing of your father. You have been there daily for him these past 2 years, whenever he needed you and I know in his own way he was very grateful . My thoughts and prayers are with you, and know I will be there for you.
Thank you, Maria. He was well-loved and will be much missed. I was glad for the opportunity to be with him.
I’m so sorry Audrey to hear the news of your Father, your posting is a wonderful tribute. Such a comfort for your Father in having you at his side, it seems that yours was a strong bond – a love that will remain with you forever.
It will indeed, Mary. Thank you for your kind note.
Ogee, my deepest sympathies. You have honored him beautifully with this poem (one of my favorites) and your photos.
Thank you, Lynn. The poem is a treasure – like him.
Here is a post on a friend’s blog about this poem and the history behind it; I thought you might enjoy reading it. Hope you are well. http://romancingthebee.com/2012/03/11/telling-the-bees/
Thank you, Lynn. I did not remember that from Deborah’s blog – but that was fairly early in my blogging career. This is wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing.
You have my condolences.
beautiful…….I lost my son (21) in may 2012 due to a car crash (he was a passenger)…..you are in my thoughts…
I’m so sorry for your loss. He is not gone; he is just with you in a different way now.
Please accept my deepest sympathies on your loss. Your tribute to him was beautiful and may you find strength in your family and many friends to work through the grief process.
Thank you. I am at peace that he is at peace after living a rich and full life.
This is just one of the most beautiful and inspiring blogs and the fact its focused around rescuing beautiful Goldens is lovely
Thank you, Lisa. We all need a little rescuing once in a while, don’t we?
You have my sympathies about your dad. I lost mine a little over a year ago in my arms and there is not a day that does not go by that I do not miss him
I’m sorry for your loss, as well. Have faith; he is still with you.
I am so sorry for your loss, Audrey. My work as a hospice and hospital chaplain brings me to these vigils often, and I sense your companionship and support for your father was profound and deeply loving. Peace to his Spirit and to your sensitive, loving heart and Spirit as well. I’ll carry you both in my heart today and in the days to come.
Thank you, Catherine. The work you do is so good, but hard. Such a gift to those on their journey – and to the families who stay behind. Blessings.
A beautiful tribute. I send my deepest condolences about your Dad and keep you in my prayers. Seedbud.
Thank you, Seedbud.
I’m so sorry for the loss of your dad, Audrey. Fathers and daughters — such a bond. And you’ve illuminated it so beautifully here. May your memories lessen your grief over time.
Thank you, Patti.
It is a lucky father whose middle daughter stands by his side at journey’s end and journey’s beginning.
Thank you, Corie. I feel the lucky one to have been blessed with this time.
We are so very sorry for your loss. In the days, weeks, months, and years to come, may you find comfort surrounded by loving Golden Retrievers and the beauty of the Homeward Bound garden.
Exactly my thought. I will be headed there soon 🙂
Audrey, our sincere and heartfelt condolences, and thank you sooo much for your continued and lovely prose through these pages. May your papa rest in eternal peace! Hugs, Ina and Ned
Thank you, Ina. Instead of in peace…I hope he is tending an even larger garden now. He would like that. 🙂
So sorry and sad to hear about the passing of your father Audrey, my thoughts are with you and your family.
Thank you, Sam.
I’m going to save this poem. It is beautiful. I’m a middle daughter, too, so it feels especially precious. And what a wonderful tribute to your father and his legacy! I wish you much peace.
I came across it awhile ago, and knew it would have a use someday. It touched me, and I’m glad it did you, as well.
Audrey, I’m so sorry for your loss.
The poem is perfect.
Thank you, Deborah. Lynn directed be to your post with the history of the Telling of the Bees…beautiful.
Audrey I’m so very sorry for your loss. That poem is beautiful and sad and perfect. My thoughts are with you.
Thank you, Tatia. That’s exactly how his passing feels: Beautiful, sad, and perfect – to leave when he did.
I love the poem, and the pictures and the dedication to your Dad, Very sweet and inspiring! Your dad will speak to you if you know how to listen, through each new home found for the dogs, and each new growth of flower, and each shooting star will be him sending his love! You do such great work with the Garden and the Golden’s, you are truly a Saint! He will always be with you…Watch for the signs!
My best of the best to you and yours at this very difficult time!
No saint at all…but thank you! I will always be listening for him; but I feel him closest when I am in the garden. No words necessary. 🙂
I’m deeply sorry for your loss. I believe your Dad would like this post very much.
Oh, I’d like to think so. Thank you 🙂
A touching post. Time heals the wound. Memory remains as does the shadow of loss. Memory shines the light of laughter & good company that dims the shadow. All the best.
So beautifully put, elmediat. Thank you.