Upon Learning that Bees Taste with their Feet – a poem by Dennis Camire

Upon Learning that Bees Taste with their Feet


I lament the half century I failed to marvel 
at this one honeybee, as the book heeds, “hovering 
over a bloom then plumbing toes inside to divine 
if its nectar has already been imbibed and, thus, 
save precious calories for the thousand-plus 
flowers each gatherer touches down upon a day. ” 

It’s like the time I learned butterflies navigate 
by ultraviolet light (we don’t see) and, suddenly, 
felt cheated by streetlights and road signs. 
Tonight, then, I porch sit until dawn so I might espy 
“that June, lunar moth emerging from cocoon 
with no mouth for the two weeks it flies 

and seeks mates in the feintest moonlight.” 
And I dream, now, of suicide prevention week 
featuring those bio luminescing fish whose “glowing, 
worm-shaped lips attract prey to steel-trap jaws 
so they can survive the  complete darkness of bottom” 
Still, some friends think me a bit mad as, between sips 

from the wine glass’s tulip, I wax poetic on ”the humming-
bird’s heart beating twelve-hundred times per minute 
from the body weight in nectar it drinks each day.” 
But as I flit from the bloomed tomes of books rife 
with this life-giving-science, l’ve come to bee-lieve 
earth’s own looming colony collapse might be 

averted if we evolve this taste to gather only the
sweet distillations of light in, say, “the small, male cuttle fish 
shape-shifting and coloring into a female impersonator 
who then sashays past the fighting alpha males 
to mate.” And if, one day, enough of us gather 
and carry—into conversation—the tupelo honey

Of “the humpback’s song echoing a whole time zone
In search of a mate,” maybe we’ll see wild reverence
as vital to survival as bees are to our food supply
for see, already, the growing fieldtrips where kids 
are asked to imagine the hive’s hidden queen 
laying over a million eggs a lifetime; and hear how 

they jostle to be the first to press ear to the wild, 
winter hive to hear  the “soft symphony from the bees 
staying warm, can you imagine, by alternating being 
on the edge of the swarm and furiously flapping wings 
to keep the hive at ninety degrees while, outside 
it’s a whopping five below.” And think how 

the teachers and chaperone--taking in the 
children’s’ oooohhhs and ahhhs over honeybees
dancing directions to the newest lupine blooms—
find themselves tap dancing heal to toe
on the bus ride home while wondering at all 
this long-overlooked sweetness at their very feet.



Dennis Camire is a professor of writing at Central Maine Community College. His poems have appeared in Poetry East, Spoon River Review, The Mid-American Review and other journals and anthologies. An Intro Journal Award Winner and Pushcart Prize nominee, his most recent book is Combed by Crows, Deerbrook Editions. Of the collection. X. J. Kennedy says: “Dennis Camire is an up and comer… The poems engage us with their promising titles, and deliver with skill and energy.”  Of Franco-American and Native American origin, he lives in an A-frame in West Paris, Maine.

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