SELF PORTRAIT WITH BEES
With the fake crack of the fake gun
a silence falls over the county.
And then everyone is cheering
because the bodies of the horses
are all moving very quickly and noisily,
and then the fair is more like a single
living nerve than a knot of nerves
working in concert, and all the legged
animals in it are one: the vertical stares
of goats, translucent hair across their lips
standing on end, the pigs spread up
publicly against one another
in their pen’s patch of sunlight,
and there’s a hall full of just
vegetables: early pumpkins, teeth
of corn, watermelons so large
they can’t be lifted by one person
alone, there, among purple green
beans all pointing in different
directions, which only turn green
when you cook them, and there’s us,
limbs all pointing toward the ground,
touching the horns of rams, inserting hay
through squares of chicken wire,
into the mouths of calves,
and the sun comes down,
and the rain comes down,
and in the 4H barn
the bees are crawling
over one another’s bodies
behind a solid inch of glass,
so we can watch them make
the honey. The question is
what is the way to grow
as large as a barn inside
yourself. What is the way
to store within what grows
In the summer, the fair again.
But it’s different, a different state.
The sun is setting, not overhead.
The rides have more lights.
The crowd is enormous.
Again it seems many-limbed.
Again it does not include us.
And you’re not you, you’re different
you, with glasses, darker hair. You’re
cooler, leather jacket, better-looking.
This is the biggest and smallest difference.
Biggest because someone else’s body is attached
to me. Smallest because there are so many bodies.
Inside the purple discotheque tent the music is
music that always plays in outdoor tents.
Everyone except us is wearing matching t-shirts
and drinking some liquid out of pineapple hulls.
I don’t know what it is exactly—hulls are opaque.
Standing in the dark tent’s mouth next to whomever
I’m like: pineapple, DJ, sparkles, people facing people, the hits, unidentifiable
alcohol, okay, check, yes, this is normal, dance.
LAUREN CLARK holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Michigan and works as Program & Development Coordinator at Poets House in New York City. Her first collection of poems, Music for a Wedding, was selected by Vijay Seshadri for the 2016 AWP Donald Hall Prize in Poetry and will be published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2017. See more at www.laurclar.com.