Growing Older Extra: Reader Essay by Marion Palm

From Minnesota Alumni Magazine Winter 2017

W2017_GrowingOlderExtraMarionPalm_Inline300 Writer’s note: I like to write about our shrinking number of “Older Alumni” and relate it to nature.

Where are the bees?

No weapons, no corpses, no bees!

What has become of our bees?
Did they fall into a rapture?
Is this the end of pollination, as we know it?

In the moment, it’s the vanishing bees
That captures my attention.

Bees, those seers, our canary in the coalmine, collapsing

In their colonies, I see myself in you

Even though I’ve despised how you came

To barbeques and picnics despite not being invited.

What if there are no bees next summer, no bees

To navigate using vibrations in the air, or no air?

I miss your dance, your symbolic language,

The choreography when you swarm.

I even miss

My human responses of fright, the excitement

When you buzz close to my ear and fly by the back of my neck.

Are we all powerless

Or committing a willful civilization-scale suicide?

I lie awake at night

With visions of our apocalypse,

And form for myself

A kind of awe, an intuit of end days

And then I set these bad dreams aside.


I consult bee-death obituaries, look for corpses.

Crawl among the rocks and around the trees,

I’m in a state of worry. I need your honey,

I need to know you are out there.

I’m craving something sweet and sticky.

Feeling that your absence is worse than your sting.

Credit: Inspired by an article in the June 15, 2015, issue of New York Magazine about a merchant ship discovered in the Azores in 1872, called Mary Celeste, (a ship found without a single passenger on board).

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