The Lecture of the Bees

there was a woman who was born with no breasts.
And though she wanted children more than gold
all the men shunned her.
So she grew to hate them
and thought of ways to gain power over them.
She went to live in the mountain,
taking her hatred with her in the two
empty sacks in her chest.
One sack she filled with wood, the other
she filled with water from the lake
which was both eye and mouth of the mountain.
In the sack of wood she kindled a fire.
When the fire had eaten every branch,
leaving red-hot coals of ash, she poured
water from the other sack and quenched them.

This she did every day for three years
until the sack could hold no more
and she placed the ashes in a mound at her feet.
From the ashes she fashioned a child,
nursing it with water from the lake
and the fire of the mountain.
The sack used for burning was made
into a garment for the child
and from the sack used for water
the woman made sandals for the child's feet.
And one day, the sky divided into equal portions
by the sun, the woman said to the child: Go
to the houses of my birth and teach
what I have learned in the mountain.
So the child went, walking
down the one path from the mountain,
clutching her breasts.

—Dennis Braden