Bee Whisperer

Last week, I shared the cover of my upcoming novel in poems, An Art, a Craft, a Mystery, and told you the story behind the cover’s design, which is based on the poem, Bee Whisperer

Today, I am honored to share this poem which was just published in the July/August issue of Poetry Magazine.

My book is a verse novel written in historical persona poetry.  An Art, a Craft, a Mystery (Livingston Press, 2022) is the story of two women who immigrated to the colonies as indentured servants in the seventeenth-century and lived along the Connecticut River. They were both healers and victims of the early witch-hunt delusion in colonial Connecticut. In this poem, Kate Harrison speaks about the harassment she suffered after her husband’s death, and her response to the harassment.

I drew from many historical documents to create Lydea and Kate’s story. I thank historian, David D. Hall for his book, Witch-Hunting in Seventeeth-Century New England, where I discovered the transcripts of Kate’s trial. This poem rose out of the following testimony recorded on October 29, 1668:

Richard Montague said Katherine Harrison said that a swarm of bees flew away…but the said Katherine said that she had fetched them again.”

Bee Whisperer


For weeks we’ve seen some wild winds.
Today, I find my hives knocked over.
A season’s honey smeared in rivers
on the ground. I stand their domes again.

The bees are swarming in the trees and fighting
against the gale. I watch one entire colony
trapped by a whirlwind, carried out and up
across the Green. I run to follow and see them
swept over the river and caught in a maple grove.

                  Can anyone call bees?

Alone before the water’s edge,
in desperate worry for my colony,
not knowing what to do, I hold
my arms high, as if to block the wind,
and cry like swarming bees. I speak
about our apple blooms, promise
them acres of blossoms and honey mounds.

                  Your domes are upright, your babies waiting.

Suddenly, in one black cloud, they return
across the water, above my raised
head and waving arms, over the Green.

When I return, almost
horizontal against the raging winds,
I climb to my orchard, and find
the hives filling back
with colonies of bees.


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