origami flight

Origami Instructions for Folding a Bee

Day rises arching
her back—

having spent the night

the circus
of rainbows on concrete

soda cans
still sticky

a high frequency
treble line

and shoals of x-ray fish
with their semaphore fins, all

needle-stung ley lines

now devoted to
the reign of light,

to barred bellies
smeared with pollen.

On the verge
of omens—

in the husk of what
can no longer be restored

the shadow of a cloud
of bees might still

quiet, might still
layer itself like dust

over cinquefoil and hop clover
bright as lemons, once

flying into us.
What folds beneath our hands

houses of washi
in rust and ash

may also rise, the air green
again, and light

renew herself with a mist
of queens ascending.


I wrote this poem in June of 2020, and it was originally published by Literary Yard in April 2021.

At the time I was inspired to write it because of a stray phrase jotted in my notebook, which became the title of the poem. (I’m not sure why origami appears so frequently in my poetry…)

Additionally, shortly before the time I wrote it we had caught two swarms near our bee yard (here are the first swarm and the second swarm links), and bees were much on my mind.

So proud of our first swarm!
So proud of our first swarm!

When I read this now, I can’t connect with the poem as a whole anymore, although some of the phrases are sumptuous. But since going through the loss of a colony in a cold snap this winter, and the repopulation of our hive by a new swarm, bees are once again on my mind.

I realized I’d not posted this poem before, so now I have, in celebration of the new colony. Welcome, bees!

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