The bees make a mask, rippling like sauce,
covering the beekeeper’s eyelids. He shaves
them off with a credit card, the stench
of pollen clotting his nostrils, the logic
of terror unable to win its case, though
tiny legs tap their reasons across his pores.
The argument to remain placid is as soft
as the fur-covered thoraxes, as clear
and as light as the transparent wings.
Do nothing. Breathe through your teeth.
Apis mellifera, small honey-bearing beast.
In swarm, a cloud of electric current,
but here, on the contours of his face,
they seem to wander tip-toe, sleepy,
navigating over each other with compound
vision, kaleidoscopic-sighted pilgrims
oblivious to each other on their quest,
casual, purposeful, plodding over flesh
and hair, brushing the tips of their long
fore-wings against the keeper’s eyelashes,
as close to kissing as they will come,
bound together but without intimacy,
curling under each other like a slow-
motion rioting mob, a water ballet
where the music is stillness, is tapping,
the brush of abdomen, antennae, and legs.