In the Georgics, Virgil tells me to empty out my small tool shed and lure in a young bull, two years old, stop up his nostrils with greased rags and force sand or mud down his throat until he collapses, then take some of the hammers I’ve just thrown into the grass and pound his flanks until his insides lose their shape. Virgil tells me to pull branches down from my dying alder and cover the bull with them, as well as sprigs of marjoram and thyme. It should be done in April. As light warms the bull’s stomach, deep within white creatures with blind amber eyes are born and find their way into the air. They swarm and unloose their wings and churn as one into my bee box making a noise like a machine with bad alignment, or ripped subwoofers in the cars of boys who tattoo tears on their faces as if we needed proof of their suffering. Virgil says to find the queen and rip off her wings so the flock will never flee. Plant saffron, pines. He never again seems to mention the bull, what to do with its body after giving birth to drudges of sweetness, whether to burn the entire shed in its privacy of rust, or to wait until there are only bones to haul out like a galleon’s wreckage.
The bull waits, as if in obedience. My fingers scan Georgics, taking its pulse. The hive stokes its feral sugars.