For We Do Not Know How to Pray
“but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words” – Saint Paul
Worker bees fly in from the field and dance the story of nectar: antennae circling,
abdomen humming. When I was a boy I had seizures and my body forgot how to speak;
in my silence, I rubbed buttercup pollen on my cheeks, tied dandelions into ropes.
In Russia, monks wander wordless through forests, praying for mercy with chotkis,
begging for honey from bees. One gospel says Jesus’ mouth was anointed with honey
right as the heavens ripped open, before he was silent for forty days.
The first time I stood before the altar, breaking the honey-wheat bread of Christ’s body,
my whole body trembled. I was speechless.
If you ever lost the capacity to speak, would you dance like the honey bee—
pointing your people to the wild, wild nectar of endless yellow blossoms?
Travis Poling is a poet, liturgist, and teacher living in Richmond, Indiana.
His work has appeared in various journals and anthologies, and a self-published
chapbook. He edits the William Stafford Online Reader and blogs at travispoling.com.
Recently he collaborated with artist Craig Goodworth in “Vcela,” a liturgical installation
exploring the honey bee in ecological and spiritual traditions.