50,000 BUMBLEBEES DIE
The sprayer masks up, power-mists poison clouds
over the Linden trees, speeds off in his red pickup truck.
He is only following orders.
Fifty thousand bumblebees down-draft
and soft plop on the once ashen asphalt
now a black gold-flecked Persian carpet.
Some are dead before they hit the ground,
others jerk their wings, scrabble their tiny legs
to lift off and carry home their nectar load.
The sweepers are only following orders.
They crunch the bumblebees under their work boots,
shovel the dying and dead into black plastic bags,
surprised at the lightness of so great a bulk.
Nearby the colonies hunker in small ground holes.
Larvae pheromone their hunger.
Queens and drones whisper confusion
And wait. No workers, not one
Floats down the hollowed passageways.
Buzzless silence sags into the day after
and all the queens dream
of fuzzed carapaces tumbling onto a funeral pyre
exploding yellow ebony-banded flames
higher than the Linden trees.
The grieving queens follow the curl
of amber-streaked smoke,
fly into the fire’s hot center,
shoot out gold-barbed fireworks
stinging the onlookers blind.