Pagan Purples by Andy Roberts

The smallest bees I have ever seen
are swarming the foxglove and loosestrife,
standing on their heads for nectar in the delphiniums.
I stop under the silver maple for shade,
where the tiny oak tree fights for light,
stem the size of a gnarled, arthritic finger.
It’s always the old people who love flowers most
because they see life returning in the spring. It comforts them,
as Jesus The Holy Ghost for nuns. Little bees
the size of black and yellow gnats swarm around my hands
but don’t light or sting as I touch the soft petals and
life is transmitted through my fingers –
the touching keeps me alive another day, a week.
I eat the purple mulberries no one wants
but the birds, and it makes me stronger,
the stains and the gathering.
I walk on flat rocks stacked around the honey locust
and the sweet gum, three laps around the
Southern magnolias with waxy leaves and white blossoms,
but always return to the delphiniums, the deep purple towers
where I discovered the tiny bees. The variety is called
Pagan Purples. As for the oak,
I planted my acorn as an offering two years ago
and the seedling grew, twisted like a bonsai, fighting for light
beneath the maple, near the delphiniums
and the bees working their magic in the towers.
I feel the leaves of all the plants I love.
I gain life here, live for days
through the touching, a week.