The Apiary/Dispatch from the Conchologist/The Gumshoes/The Stable/No man on Earth has no Belly-Button
by Ruby Rorty, October 10th 2022
All spring, the flowers have sex with the flowers and the birds have sex with the sky and the sky - who is an old man now, though still smooth as anything - the sky turns his bright gaze on me and asks me who I will have sex with this spring. It is time for young things to be made, he says, baby flowers and baby birds and baby skies and baby yous. And I have to tell the sky that though it is spring, I am alone. The sky tells the birds that I am alone while he makes sweet blue love to them, and the birds carry the news from flower to flower until I am pollen-dusted and sneezing. But it is spring and sex is in the air and so the bees leave their trees and their bike sheds to see about my loneliness. A bee flies into each of my lonesome ears and they buzz there - to each other or me, I am not certain. They say “a hive is never alone,” they say “the sky will outlive all his lovers,” they say “you can love yourself all spring and that will be enough.” And then my left bee does a waggle dance and my right bee, the queen, begins feeling her way through the tunnels of my ear and into my skull. She buzzes to her drone, “meet me in the middle” and he does. The bees begin a mating ritual that reverberates through my skull and it hurts and I open my mouth and honey drips out. Through a thick sweet mouthful, I shout at the sky, “See? I am the spring.”
In my porous bones, a brood is laid.
Dispatch from the Conchologist
All summer I collect seashells on the seashore. I am a seashell augur: I tell the future with the seashells I find on the seashore. I keep the shells and sell the fortunes. I find a shell shaped like a storm and sell it to the local weatherman for a rain jacket. I find a shell shaped like a baby and sell it to my sister for her motorcycle. I find a shell shaped like a heart and sell it to the hospital for a kidney. I build a house made of my shells and it is a house built for the future. I leave some shells behind. The ones shaped like my mother’s face. A shell shaped like global climate change. A snarling shell. A shell like an orchid, fragile and labial. These shells are disappointments, or
bad news, or too big to fit into my shell house. I throw them back into the big wet shell shaped
like the sea. At long last, I find a shell shaped like a tiny skull. It winks. It smiles. In it,
something pink shivers. I slip death into my pocket and head for the hills.
All fall, the leaves investigate the disappearances of summer. All leaves, they fall, and float like clues to the sidewalk. Some don disguises, decompose to ask the earthworms what has happened, who or what or when has taken their green away. A contingent mingles with rain and trash in the gutter, letting themselves be washed away on purpose, in case the rats know something they don’t. Everything suspects it is nearing an end in the fall but the leaves are right. They are right every year and every year it is the same question and no year do they find the lost season. The old trees watch it all, undressing: all-knowing, unrevealing. The crows - there are so many now, too many to count - darkly take their seats in leaf-shaped spaces. This is the twist: the fall is the setting, and the era, and the culprit, and the end of the poem.
All winter the cowboy sits home and knits scarves by the fire. All scarves the cowboy knits are winter or fire colored. All cowboy fire scarfs home the knitting in winter. The cowboy’s knitted cowboy hat sleeps on a hook by the door. When he has a scarf for every neck (five) every aunty (seven) and every hat (one) the cowboy starts to knit new horses. The horses are red and black and pink and yellow and ombre. They blink their yarny eyes and flick their stringy tails and stare into the fire all winter. They have fuzzy sex and birth fuzzy colts. When the cabin is full of knit horses and every knit horse (twenty two) has a scarf, the cowboy starts to knit the spring.
Every man’s belly is buttoned on Earth. You will know the bellhop by the bell in his
buttoned belly. The bell chimes when the bellhop is hungry. The bell says, “no man on earth has
no belly-button. That is to say: Every man’s belly is buttoned on Earth. Now unbutton your belly
and feed your belly-button to the bellhop whose belly I’m in, and we won’t have any problems.”
You comply. Now no man on Earth has a button on his belly, except for the bellhop. That
is to say: (n-1) of the world’s belly-buttons are in the belly of the bellhop, which remains
buttoned. But I have heard that we may - shhhh - soon rise, at night when the bellhop is sleeping.
At night, when the bell is unchiming, we may rise and unbutton the bellhop and scoop out our
belly-buttons in fistfuls and sew them back on our ownselves. And take the bell in the bellhop’s
belly and throw it into the sea with the unbuttoned women. So there.
after otis eugene ray