The Keeper

Honey drips from his mouth when he speaks as it drips from his hands while he’s working the hive. With care and admiration for the labor of the bees, he examines each frame of hexagonal sweetness and places it aside for harvest. He tells me I’m perfect, which means fixed, permanent, capped off with wax. I trace his sticky fingers with the tip of my tongue in silent dissention.

The bees have itchy feet like me.  They construct entire nurseries in which a new queen may develop and lead them away to fresh meadows. But the beekeeper pinches their efforts into mere crumbs of wax. They will stay.  

Extraction. The machine whirs and vibrates like a rocket preparing to launch. It gleams silver, but inside liquid gold flies off the frames and filters down to ooze from an orifice into the receptacle below. His muscles bulge like thick twisted rope as he carries the sixty-pound bucket away.  

Our home is a dome-shaped hive with an amber glow inside. I am a captive queen, chained by dependence and desire for the constant supply of carbohydrates. Sugar words, sweet caresses, saccharine stillness in bed. His hands massage mine, and my body goes limp. Honey trickles from his fingers over my tired legs, the knots along my spine, my heavy hips. I melt, set, begin to crystallize.

In Spanish there’s a verb “empalagar:” to cause fatigue from too much sweetness, almost to the point of nausea. Me empalaga. Careful not to confuse it with “empalar:” to impale. Me empala. That comes after.

I have energy enough to crave more, to undo the buttons of his cargo pants, peel off the rest of our layers, and taste his honeycomb rod. It hardens in my mouth, and I detect a hint of sour nectar at the tip. He lies back, sighs, lets me sculpt a pillar with my tongue while my hands explore the softer parts beneath. Warm saliva runs over firm skin, eyes closed, vaguely aching jaws work up and down.

Soon it’s almost too much for him, and he groans and pulls me up. I kiss each rib along the way, breathing in the scent of leafy smoke. The aroma intensifies when I move up to nibble his ear. A beekeeper’s smoker will drive the bees into a frenzy, and like them, my heart beats faster.

I read somewhere once that our bodies release a hormone to signal the feeling of fullness, but not when we eat simple sugars. So the carmelly taste of his mouth will never satiate; it only sharpens my hunger for more.

Like a pollinator probing for pistils, his fingers explore my inner petals and the pulsing nerve center above. I begin to set roots, tendrils tunneling down into primal darkness, thought giving way to sensation.  I’m quivering with the rotation of the earth, the circular motion around my core. The pressure increases, pinning me to the sheets. The gravity of a planet between my legs, the vibration of a thousand humming insects. I hold my breath, the air too hot to breathe, until the buzzing in my head explodes into slow-motion flapping of wings, an ocean subsiding.

“You’re beautiful,” he tells me, and I feel I’ve been plucked from the dirt and placed in a glass. But the glass shatters when he spears me, slick with royal jelly, and I surrender all my leaves and inhibitions.

I’m drowning in honey, lost in an overgrown meadow, sucked in again by the sweetness. We are locked in rhythm together, our bodies shapeshifting, speeding up and slowing down but never stopping. He’s behind me now, digging a thumb into the hole above the one that’s full and wet, eliciting high-pitched animal noises from my vibrating throat. I don’t feel human anymore. Devoured by passion, I’m both ruler and slave to the hive. One day I will become the honey that we make, each molecule the same, flowing in a state between liquid and solid, with no more desire to fly.

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