Nocturne with a Body Beside a Hive

by Oliver de la Paz

Perhaps it was the scent of lilac
on the lips, perhaps the face of the man

says to the world, flower. And the old beauty
of something secret like a mouth

rocks the body in an electrified jazz.
The chin’s skin pricked with hundreds of

abdomens. And even here in the moonlight,
the tongue sunk deep in the throat

like a dark stamen as it stifles the dew’s wet cough.
Here, yellow bodies shock the upper lip

and their hearts, full of stubborn sips, are ticking
little icons. The bees think, this man must be the box

full of rich combs, chasms of doors and snapdragons.
This man, thick as cold honey. And the bees

know the world is violent with clover. The bees know
the lush blue on the far side of the field is the god

of the urge. The god of the urge, impatient
as the earth for the body. For this one, and the next.

And the nectar is sweet as it is cruel. The sweet
corpse’s mouth open, full of possibility

as the flower’s maw plots its everlasting.

Oliver de la Paz is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Requiem for the Orchard. He is the co-editor of A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry. He teaches at Western Washington University.