Museum of Bees

by Mark Wunderlich

Mark Wunderlich

At the museum of bees, there are no bees—
just the empty boxes of the hives

painted gaily, offered as folk art
and displayed here in this ancient farmhouse—

picturesque on the slope of an alpine meadow,
with its thatched roof, and its valuable view,

its fallow fields mowed periodically
to keep the best alpine flowers in bloom.

The bee boxes smell of warm wax, a whiff
of honey with its faint trace of chamomile,

and in the part of the museum that shows
how the farmers once lived, there is a glass case

containing a doll with a porcelain head,
its marble eyes black and unblinking, staring upward

at a heaven fixed in its unseeing gaze.
I assume this is the Christ child

reproduced for domestic veneration,
and I admire its human hair

which is tow-colored and curled in spiral
locks that fall around its matte china-gray face.

Someone sewed a swaddling gown
from strips of silk and lace. On a bed

of brocade, the little body lies
sealed in its coffin of glass. Outside

on the sun-cast meadow, hikers
traverse the trail on their way past

this forgotten house, hidden in a cluster of trees,
the bees too having been forgotten

or left to make their own way
wild in the domesticated woods, and far

from the diligent hands of men.

Last updated October 20, 2022