Alison Hawthorne Deming’s “Stairway to Heaven”

New York’s Hive City

Browsing poems online, we recenly ran across a beautiful example of how the metaphor-rich world of honey bees can lead writers into a wide range of subject matter.

In “Stairway to Heaven,” poet Alison Hawthorne Deming reflects on her brother’s battle with cancer and her own grief. Here are the opening lines:

The queen grows fat beneath my house
while drones infest the walls

 

reconnaissance to feed her glut,
wood ripped from studs and joists.

I’ll pay to drill the slab and ruin
her pestilential nest. How to find

the song in this day’s summons?

Of the composition process, Deming writes: “I can’t seem to stop carrying my brother around on my back since he died in May 2011. I think of the way Aeneas carried his father Anchises out of defeat, but the stuff of my days is all here on the horizontal plane: termites, cancer, Led Zeppelin, and my devotion to the animal world. These all fell together one day into this poem.”

Read the full poem at the Academy of American Poets.

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