Tried out today’s NaPoWriMo prompt asking for a poem that engages with different languages and cultures through the lens of proverbs and idiomatic phrases. Because one of my jobs is teaching English to adult Japanese learners, I chose a Japanese phrase, and its opposite: kuchi ga omoi (one’s mouth is heavy) and kuchi ga kurui (one’s mouth is light).
Katsuya explains that when it comes to talking politics
he’s been taught to keep a heavy mouth: kuchi ga omoi.
In English, we say tight-lipped I explain,
internally thinking how today’s lesson is really for me.
A chance to weigh the things I’m prone to say.
How often do my heavy thoughts
slip from a mouth that’s too light?
Went weird, and steam of consciousness for Friday the 13th. I combined the NaPoWriMo.net prompt asking to upend or change a popular saying, with the Poetic Asides prompt asking for an insect title poem. I settled on the phrase “barking up the wrong tree” and changed it (I don’t know why) to “whispering into a flower’s ear.” That naturally made me think of bees.
There have been first-hand reports of bees in the area. Bumbling from one rare patch of exposed, dead grass to the next. Carrying a dusting of post-season snow on their backs. An old woman in line at the grocery store told me she saw one hovering at her window, its oversized eyes fixed on a potted daisy inside. (Her niece sent it to her after the cataracts operation — a total success. Everything looks much sharper now!) The bee, she said, was whispering into the flower’s ear. Reciting an incantation through the glass. Stayed for a full ten minutes, and three more bees gathered at the window. A barbershop quartet of bees, bedecked in their striped suits. All that was missing was the little hats, and wouldn’t that be cute? When their serenade was done, she said, she watched the daisies grow. Green stems stretching up, up. Bright white heads bending toward the grey light of a spring morning masquerading as December. Their yellow centers grinning, because they’d been asked to join the call. An uprising of chutes and flora, persisting despite winter’s insistence. Then, the old women said, a burst of purple through the snow. Then another. A whole crop of crocuses, their petals parting, yearning for the sweet bee kiss.