Telling the Bees
creative nonfiction by Kellie Brown
The roots of this practice may have come from Celtic mythology, which claimed that bees helped humans connect with the spirit world, and so those needing to get a message to the dead could use the bees as their interlocutor.
Then I said to myself, “My Mary weeps
For the dead to-day:Haply her blind old grandsire sleepsThe fret and the pain of his age away.”But her dog whined low; on the doorway sillWith his cane to his chin,The old man sat; and the chore-girl stillSung to the bees stealing out and in.And the song she was singing ever sinceIn my ear sounds on:—“Stay at home, pretty bees, fly not hence!Mistress Mary is dead and gone!”
Kellie Brown was born and still lives in East Tennessee where generations of her family have lived. She is a violinist, conductor, music educator, and award-winning writer whose book, The Sound of Hope: Music as Solace, Resistance and Salvation during the Holocaust and World War II (McFarland Publishing, 2020), received one of the Choice Outstanding Academic Titles award. Her words have appeared in Earth & Altar, Ekstasis, Psaltery & Lyre, The Primer, and others.