Sunday, April 15, 2007

Flight Of the Bumblebee


Flight of the Bumblebee, by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
(Click to listen while you read. There are a dozen or so
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My grandmother, a classical violinist,
was convinced, until she heard me play,
that I would follow in her footsteps,
live the life of a professional musician
she gave up to take care of 3 children,
grandfather, a house, a farm, a church —
and stray vagabonds who happened by.

Quickly, everyone in earshot suggested
a different sort of instrument. They sat
me down at the piano, which I liked.
When my arms were long enough to reach
C#, Father taught me how to play the flute —

Which is how I came to play and then memorize,
sort of, the Flight of the Bumblebee — which I played
in band along with younger children with shorter
arms, fingers and slower reflexes, about an eighth
of a beat behind the older girl who hung on
to first chair, even after she got braces.

I liked the buzzing sound.

I'm not allergic to bees, recovered nicely
from various stings, even when I swallowed
half a coke can full of them in a Texas
hill country garden one hot afternoon.

I don't hate bees.
Scientists theorize it is impossible
for them to fly. They are small buzzing
miracles, billions of them.

Like every living being on the planet,
I consume food pollinated by them.

Like every living being on the planet,
I will die if we don't figure out what
is killing them, and stop it.

Let's see.

Agribusiness strips land of weeds, stones, the natural
diversity of growing things, the ecological system.
Pesticides kill insects, then seep into the water table.
The natural relationship between food and vacinity
that fosters everyone's immue system is broken.
Genetic engineering creates rape seeds which
are sterile so farmers have to buy new seeds from
Monsanto, from Cargill, every year because food
isn't about feeding life, it's about profit.

At just the right moment bee keepers truck in
hives to pollinate fields, orchards, groves
replete with food plants that require insects —
bees, resistent to pesticide residue.
But now they are dying of CCD,
colony collapse disorder —

stress, total system collapse,
fungus, mites, pesticides that
mix up their homing devices so they can't
find the hive.

The last time this happened
experts called it "the disappearing disease,"
"bee decline". It is a serious threat
to profit.

Truck in bees? Rape seed? Pesticide?
Monoculture food production?

The queen bees die.

Did you know sick bees will fly away to die
rather than return to infect their homes?

Since October 2006, 35 per cent or more of the United States' population of the Western honey bee (Apis mellifera) - billions of individual bees - simply flew from their hive homes and disappeared. (Cosmos Magazine)

No one knows what is killing the bees?

©Susan Bright, 2007

* Art by Jeff Soto

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.

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