Feeling the Sting

March 25, 2015

Photo courtesy Dominik Martin

Introduction by Ted Kooser: If you’ve followed this column through a good part of the...years we’ve been publishing it, you know how hooked I am on poems that take a close look at the ordinary world. Here’s a fine poem by Eamon Grennan, who lives in New York state, about bees caught up against a closed window.

Up Against It

It’s the way they cannot understand the window
they buzz and buzz against, the bees that take
a wrong turn at my door and end up thus
in a drift at first of almost idle curiosity,
cruising the room until they find themselves
smack up against it and they cannot fathom how
the air has hardened and the world they know
with their eyes keeps out of reach as, stuck there
with all they want just in front of them, they must
fling their bodies against the one unalterable law
of things—this fact of glass—and can only go on
making the sound that tethers their electric
fury to what’s impossible, feeling the sting in it.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2010 by Eamon Grennan from his most recent book of poems, Out of Sight: New & Selected Poems, Graywolf Press, 2010. Poem reprinted by permission of Eamon Grennan and the publisher. Introduction copyright 2013 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004- 2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

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  1. Ah Kathy - this poem really speaks to me. I never considered how glass would appear to a bee. Possibly there is more meaning in this poem than meets the "glass" eye! Hugs

  2. Debbie--I think the "best" poems do have meaning beyond just what meets the eye...this one spoke to me, too.