The Hive

New England Review - - Andrew Grace - An­drew Grace

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.

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