about the author

Erin Lyndal Martin is a poet, music journalist, and visual artist. Other poems from “Colony Collapse” have appeared in Handsome, Gulf Coast, Eleven Eleven, and more.

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Three Poems  

Erin Lyndal Martin

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Colony Collapse: Maman Brigitte

You can tell me the bees are dying. So are the flowers I bought for Maman Brigitte, who watches over all the tombs in all the world. I did not drive to a graveyard to lay her flowers on the headstone of the oldest woman buried there. I did not have that much faith. I did not wait for a Saturday. I was impatient. I bought her purple flowers for the altar where I burned a purple candle sprinkled with cemetery dirt. I did not sing Pawol anpil pa leve le mo. Maman Brigitte, she won’t raise up the dead after all. She will leave them be. The human bodies and the bees. Our dearly beloved are another’s faceless dead, and all of them are gone in that country a mother does not know her child, in that country a brother does not know his sister... Of course I haven’t had a chance to tell you that I called a psychic once to ask about your soul. I wanted to make sure it was you, so I asked her to have you tell me a joke you would have told me. A sandwich walks into a bar and the bartender says “we don’t serve food here.” I had heard it before and doubted you would find it funny, though I can’t actually seem to remember you ever telling me a joke now that I think about it. I have always worshiped underworld gods. Maybe I should pray to living ones instead. The ones left behind.

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Colony Collapse: Narratives

You can tell me the bees are dying. I start the stories this way because that’s how this all began. How we knew something was wrong. An epidemic without symptoms until. Me, I’m stuck on the part where the bees are dying. I’m stuck on the part where the story starts the same way every time. That day in the emergency room, I told my story to cops over and over. It started to feel like a dramatic monologue, only they kept interrupting. Where did I meet him? How much did I have to drink? Had I promised to trade him sexual favors for drugs? I knew my narrative well. Only at the end of the day, the last time I told them the story, did I remember that in the beginning, I willingly took his penis in my mouth and he was rough but I just took it because. My story started the same way every time, but did it? For me it started with his clean-shaven face, how he was named for a city. How I always think I won’t be lonely if my body is pressed up against another body. How I used to think that if I’ve consented to certain sex, I can’t be raped in that moment. All of this gives way to the narrative of forensics. Where does that story start? I went to the doctor and told her about the fist and the blood. She told me to go to the hospital, and she’d call an ambulance to preserve any evidence. They made me lie on a stretcher lined with paper that they later bagged and tagged. How odd, I thought. To ride in an ambulance when I’m completely fine.

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Colony Collapse: Almond Trees

You can tell me the bees are dying, so who will pollinate the groves of almond trees? Who will propagate these thirty feet of pink-white, the nuts stealthy inside hands of green leaves? Because it was the first to bloom in Israel, the almond is known as the hurry or wakeful tree. It cannot wait to rush into bloom. How can we risk a species like that? More than the bees are at stake here. Think of Cybele, the very personification of the earth. It was her spilled blood that made an almond tree. Cybele is gone, but love spells remain. Put almonds beneath your pillow to call to your lover back. If there are no almonds, your lover will never return.

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