Jan Freeman

My Father Was a Honey Bee
August 21, 2019 Freeman Jan

My Father Was a Honey Bee

My father was a honey bee
He buzzed and buzzed
a world before
my mother opened up her door
and let me out

My father flew through garden blooms
He opened up lavender wombs
He drank the nectar
Sharp perfumes enveloped him
He sipped some more

My father loved a raptured state
He penetrated garden gates
Scent and sight
opened his flight
to paths among the stamens

The seasons changed through
sun and sleep
My father’s life became a dream
A perfect web hung in-between
his hive and quick disaster

My mother was a honey bee
She understood the hierarchy
of hives and combs and drones and queens
She lived without a crown
within a monarchy

The story of my family
reveals itself as tyranny
Inside the hive
my father thrived
as if he were a queen

My father died with gratitude
for mother’s “service”
Latitude allowed my mother
to survive
with curbed obedience

My father was a honey bee
My mother was a honey bee
She opened up her comb to me
revealing the long myth
that she endured

My parents both were honey bees
They lived their lives ensnared but free
until each one abandoned me
with truth not fallacy
A happy end to family


Jan Freeman is the author of three books of poetry, including Blue Structure and Simon Says, which was nominated for an NBCC. During a 2023 MacDowell fellowship, she completed her new manuscript, The Odyssey of Yes and No. Her poems recently appeared in North American Review, Salamander, the Brooklyn Rail, and Barrow Street. She directs the MASS MoCA Writing Through Art Poetry Retreats.