065.1: Erin Lyndal Martin:: Colony Collapse: Cellular Phone Theory & Colony Collapse: Inevitability Theory & Colony Collapse: The Thing That Gives Me Hope & Colony Collapse: After Hearing We Choose Our Fates
6 June 2011
When I was a kid it seemed every week there would be a sensational news story—or at least I remember the Story at 11 promo clips—about Africanized killer bees coming up from South America through Central America to California. From the ominous graphics and threatening voice over, this much was obvious: when they came we were goners. They would swarm around us, attack aggressively, and take us and our little dogs too. They never did come. Or maybe they did. If they did come none of the other sixth graders disappeared, although at times I wish they did. This week, we present four poems from Erin Lyndal Martin, poems that investigate another bee problem: not their arrival, but their disappearance. Each poem in the series begins, “You can tell me the bees are dying…” and the speaker’s incredulousness is almost child-like, as in, you can tell me this but I won’t believe you, won’t believe what it means. But the speaker attempts to understand its meaning through her own lens, how the loss of these bees serves as a trope for loss of self, for the loss of friends and loved ones, for the loss of a relationship between mother and daughter, and the like. Through Martin’s meditation on the loss of bees, she begins to tackle the larger conceit of what it means to live—that sometimes we are defined not by arrival or addition, but by negation. I checked Wikipedia; those killer bees came to California—we just didn’t notice. Martin’s poems ask that we notice now, that we not take for granted.