So you must not be frightened if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen.
In 2013, scientists exhumed thirty canopic jars filled with honey
from a pharaoh’s tomb in Egypt. I’m told honey can last indefinitely
if stored in a properly sealed container. To cleanse the sucrose,
bees regurgitate nectar from one mouth to another. They deposit
the half-digested fluid in a wax-lined chamber. It is almost tender,
this process: one insect’s proboscis pressed to another’s. Have you ever
stared down a tunnel wondering what lay at its conclusion?
Elsewhere, at a theater in Aurora, Colorado, a stranger walks
into the audience (his brief silhouette, contained) and opens
fire on its viewers. A man walks into a grade school and opens
fire on its students. A man walks into a church and opens
fire on its congregants. These are just some of the stories
I would like history to regurgitate. Colony Collapse
is what academics call the slow disintegration of the Apis mellifera’s
organized community without explanation. Today,
in China, roving bands of farmers pollinate their fields
by Q-Tip—their rubber-gloved fingers dusted with pollen.
Imagine: an entire year’s crops dependent on a plastic bag
split at the corners. Do they rub the powder on their gums?
The furniture? Do they smear the meager few dollars stuffed
in their pockets? Everything, suddenly, filled with the opportunity
to become more of itself. I sometimes wonder
if Death is one property we seek to make more of.
There are stories and there are stories. It is rumored
Alexander the Great had his body embalmed in honey.
The gun used by George Zimmerman to kill Trayvon Martin
sold for thousands of dollars in an online auction.
Which of these tales seems astonishing depends on your position
in history. Honey contains the enzyme Glucose Oxidase
which produces Hydrogen Peroxide. It was once routine practice
to use honey as a common disinfectant. Bullets can be purchased
in multiple iterations. Hollow Tip. Soft Point. Tracer.
They are considered ineffective as medical implements. In 2016
police officers fatally shot Alton Sterling while pinning his arms
to the sidewalk. That Alton Sterling was black and in Louisiana
are what certain white communities might call anecdotal details.
When I say certain white communities I mean all white communities
must reckon with themselves. Did you know honey can be found
in three hundred varietals? Alfalfa, Bassswood, Fireweed, Tupelo. I find
these names indescribably lovely. After another shooting, a friend
combats her helplessness by filling notebooks with a litany of dead.
She tells me: I find this list indescribably lacking. Egyptians believed
in commemorating history with language. I have to believe
hope lives in wax-sealed chamber. Why else write this?
The average worker bee will produce up to 1/12th teaspoon
of honey in her lifetime should she live long enough to see it
through. When scientists sampled the centuries’ old nectar
they agreed it was good. That was the word they used.
Good. Once, I put a bullet casing in my mouth
expecting it to taste of metal or scorched powder.
But it didn’t. I tongued the hollow shell clean.
It didn’t taste like anything.
Perry Janes is a writer & filmmaker from metro-Detroit, Michigan. His work has appeared in The Adroit Journal, Prairie Schooner, The Normal School, Vinyl Poetry, & The Pushcart Prize XL, among others. His short-films & videos have screened in international film festivals, on multimedia platforms, & received accolades that include The Student Academy Award from the AMPAS. He currently lives & works in Los Angeles, California.