Canadian Poetry Online top banner link to Canadian Poetry Online home page link to University of Toronto Libraries home page

Our Lady of the Bumblebees

Ron Charach
From:   Petrushkin!. Ekstasis Editions,1999

You are sunbathing on a worn red blanket
in the tiny yard backing the Burrows house.
It's Sunday morning,
and Dad, as usual,
is off at his older sister's
eating Sabbath leftovers.
Your lovely tanned face — my face —
is turned toward the sun,
long lashes closed, nostrils slightly flaring
as you revel in a prairie summer day.
Around you flurry bumblebees,
alighting on the dandelions and clover,
buzzing near your slender feet,
flying low over bare arms glistening at your sides.
Rows of sticked tomato plants and luxuriant rhubarb
take up a third of the yard to the edge of your blanket.
Some mornings I watch you putter in the planted shade,
turning the soil, pretty as a sweater—girl with a watering can,
ignoring the bees and long—legged wasps
— while little Aaron and I run like the dickens
whenever one comes at us, screaming "Beenen! Beenen!"
our own made—up Yiddish word.
Now and then, across the wide—spaced fencing
the Ukrainian babushka next door gives gardening advice,
pointing, "Dis is veeds; dat is no veeds."
In exchange, you use Ukrainian words you've worked
to say perfectly, the usual weather banter:
"Tepleh! Zimneh!" "It's hot out! It's cold!"
"Moszhe dozshe; mozshe schnee."
"Maybe rain; maybe snow."
jewels in your cosmopolitan crown
that always make the neighbours smile.
Though after we were given carrots from their garden,
you made me surpass you, marching me off
with a memorized mouthful,
"Moya mama khazala zshankuyu za morkvah."
"My mother would like to thank you for the carrots"
making up for decades of Old Country anti—Semitism
that was, in the end, who knows whose original sin.
Backyard beauty of many tongues, are you the one
I'd one day call Lady of the Dumb 'I Love You's,
because you seldom came to my defense,
though you loved me — you —
who never made it into the history books,
but modelled for us
a solitary poise that was its own reward,
Our Lady of the Bumblebees.

Ron Charach's works copyright © to the author.

Canadian Poetry Online bottom banner link to University of Toronto Libraries home page link to Digital Collections home page link to University of Toronto Library catalogue link to Canadian Poetry Online home page link to University of Toronto Libraries home page