Gary McDowell

Reading Plath in Early April



The bees gallop—no, that’s not right—the bees

won’t stray from—the bees’ astonishing delay—the bees


turning back—the most perfect passage—they take

place, I mean, in the world as it thickens—they have


their way—misdirection, like spring, is a turning—the bees

in each firm beginning—the bees loom, stub—the bees—


every indiscretion—the bees render—twisted into hollowed

tree trunks, in nests underground, we find them always


when we least expect to—the bees look alike—bend the branch

down to set them reeling—they know no better—their


stinging is solitary work—the bees’ every single note—

the hive is a circuit board—the bees, as a child I thought


the bees, their stingers, could stitch, make small leaps up

or down my arm, plunge plunge plunge—the bees, though,


sputter through—the eye is most ours when shut—the bees

find all they want—come with me—they collapse too.


GARY McDOWELL is the author of a collection of essays, Caesura: Essays (Otis Books/Seismicity Editions, 2017) and five collections of poetry, including Mysteries in a World that Thinks There Are None (Burnside Review Press, 2016), winner of the 2014 Burnside Review Book Award; Weeping at a Stranger’s Funeral (Dream Horse Press, 2014); and American Amen (Dream Horse Press, 2010), winner of the 2009 Orphic Prize for Poetry. He is also the co-editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry: Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice (Rose Metal Press, 2010). His poems and essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, The Nation, Gulf Coast, The Southern Review, New England Review, and others. He lives in Nashville, TN, where he is an associate professor of English at Belmont University.