"How This Bee Stuffs Its Pockets" by Hayden Saunier

There is a name for the color of pollen

this honeybee is packing into its thigh pouches

as it works the Mexican sunflowers

with exuberant purpose

and it’s the name for the color of robes

worn by those who practice

detachment from worldly things,

a group that does not include me,

sitting back on my heels

in the wild summer garden

searching inside my head

for a word I can’t remember,

or the bee, abdomen deep

in the actual bright center of a bloom.

I say turmeric, tangerine, marigold, ochre

but no door swings open.

I try apricot, butterscotch, amber.

Not it. The honeybee gathers

fat biscuits of pollen

the color of threads in a crocus’ throat

or the orange-gold flecks in your eyes

when we met and I tumbled

in love with your eyes

flecked with saffron— oh, saffron’s

the word that swings open a swoon

of first love. Now I’m both here

and there, in two places at once.

I’m saffron both inside and out.

Hayden Saunier’s most recent book of poetry is A Cartography of Home (Terrapin, 2021.) Her work has been published widely and awarded the Pablo Neruda Prize, Rattle Poetry Prize, and Gell Poetry Award. She is the founder and director of No River Twice, an interactive, audience-driven poetry reading/performance group.