Bees dance when they have something to say. They came to my yard one day to show me how they speak. In this photo, a bee dances in the center of a crowd of listeners. Guided by some sort of spirit, a hive nearby knew it was time to split the community, and the queen took half her servants in search of a new home. They rested for a few hours in one of my rose bushes, and they showed me how the scouts direct the swarm to a suitable new hive, an amazing display of sustainable choices and a great mystery in the natural order of life.
In contrast, we humans tend to be rigid in our beliefs, convinced that our brains know the way of things. We often don't question our knowledge and indoctrinations, mistaking our judgments and opinions for a Universal Truth.
For the past six months I've been on an expedition, like the bees. There have been upheavals and discoveries, sadness and epiphanies. I wondered if my stories here had reached their appointed end. Today, like the bees that paused at my house this past spring, I'm going to dance my story.
What in God’s Name?
You can call God Max if you want to,
says the woman who mentors me
in matters spiritual and guttural
between phone calls to her oncologist
and shopping trips for still more hats
for yet another season of baldness.
I don’t mind being juggled between
the specialists and their repercussions,
a sunny yellow ball shining among
the dry-blood spheres of toxic doctors
and the baby blues of her infant head.
I have her here now, and laughing,
certain she won’t die today, not before
she finishes the job I handed her:
Find a God for me, the newly godless.
On the Fourth of July, she told me
God might dwell in fireworks,
a pyrotechnic atom all crackling red
and shimmering gold. Before that,
she said he dallied in the roses
for my clippers to unleash him,
and before that, she said he bided
at my mother’s, humming in the
sprinkler lines I mended, mourning.
I seek wherever she sends me because
I fired the irascible Judge with a clipboard
the day I found my mother up to her elbows
stirring turds in her toilet with a conviction
only the demented can muster. As I begged
the God of my mother to release his
faithful servant from her shitty life,
the scales fell from my eyes: Suddenly
I knew that old Curmudgeon suffered
psychological disorders, eons untreated,
and I forsook him on the spot. But I
was groomed since birth for God,
the fear of blasphemy embedded deep
in my reptilian brain. To be godless is
to be legless, sightless, hopeless, damned.
As my mentor fights for life, she leads me
through her curious garden, pungent with
the scents of anarchy and heresy, assigning
my tasks: Glean that field of God particles,
rake the fallen leaves under Tolstoy’s vine,
take cuttings from the tree of Martin Luther.
Here she has planted every rotten thing
that ever came to her, and made it bloom:
the young and dead, the broken, unjust,
the bitter losses and the insidious cancer
that tries to claim her every few years.
Here each stone and growing shoot
holds meaning, a miniature magnificence
that speaks of something so immense,
it can’t be grasped. But I reach anyway,
oh puny hand, for some divine, redemptive
purpose in my mother stirring turds
and all the other shocking shit of life.
You can call him Max, my mentor says:
Think about that. So I consider this
ludicrous thought: calling my new God
the name I circled in red ink in a baby book
so long ago, chosen for a son I never had.
Would I be free at last, I ask, of the tyrant
who ordains impossible standards knowing
I will fail, my eternal, horrid, raging father?
Hello, Max, I say, reaching out my hand,
and something brushes against my palm:
a weightless kiss of wings, or lips.