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Bethany Reid

Lessons in Beekeeping

Old Bee Farm by Clara Southern

Upstairs in the old house,
thousands of books
waited to be sorted into boxes,
my father’s scrawled signature
on every flyleaf. Louis L’Amour,
Frank Yerby, Pearl S. Buck.
Rough plywood and two-by-fours,
paperbacks in a double row,
hardback bookclub editions,
rows of Reader’s Digest
Condensed Books. Elizabeth Goudge’s
A Book of Comfort.
The bookshelves were a hive
of words, cacophonous barn,
dead flies on the ledges,
grizzled cherry tree tapping
against warped window panes.
The heady aroma of mold and dust,
of pent-up stories. How to Win
Souls. The Book of Knots.
Lessons in Beekeeping inscribed
to my father’s father,
“To Gene, 1918.”
So many books, rhyme
without reason, rough meter
like a song long unsung.
I worked through the September afternoon,
robbing the shelves,
black bear at a bee tree,
my father in a bee veil
prying up lids of beeboxes.


About the writer:
Bethany Reid’s Sparrow won the 2012 Gell Poetry Prize, selected by Dorianne Laux. Her poems, essays, and short stories have recently appeared in One Art, Passengers, Persimmon Tree, Constellations, and elsewhere, and her chapbook, The Thing with Feathers, was published in 2020 as part of Triple No. 10 by Ravenna Press. Bethany Reid and her husband live in Edmonds, Washington, near their three grown daughters.

Image: Old Bee Farm by Clara Southern (1861-1940). Oil on canvas. 69 x 112 cm. Circa 1900. Public domain.

OJAL Art Incorporated, publishing since 2017 as OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L) and its imprint Buttonhook Press, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation supporting writers and artists worldwide.

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