Poems by Megan Merchant



I kneel with the bees
while they drink

from pocketed drips
that pool on the glossed

green of lily pads.

I was not prepared
for such beauty
after the storm,

their blissing hum,
their hive-mind.

I grew up with their stick
high on my list
of things

to fear
in this world—

how it only takes one
to anger and swell my throat,
cinch my breath.

But I’m learning to sit
with terror long
enough to know

it was never
my own to begin with—

I have kept close
to my skin

what another out-grew
and handed down.


I have my children
sit and trace the shapes
of bees,

flickery bodies
in motion,
crumbed yellow,

as if they had the power
to orbit and touch the sun.

When they swarm
my son’s hair,

I give him a spoonful
of honey

so he will remember
to crave the sweet.

(From The Literary Nest)


Healing Spell

Lovi invoka, hova lone.”



Lay your child in a field,
then river, then empty room.

He is a continent, an archipelago,
a land mass sketched

blue in your veins,
the cartography of worry.

You want him be a tangle
of weeds that spike the surface—

where god’s hands

can reach in and unplug
the wires that have been short


summon the four corners
with this plea—

that there is not worse
hiding underneath.


Twine a bundle of fresh
pine needles with a red string,

slip it under his pillow

and if the sap is cloudy
come morning,

say a prayer of thanks.

If you wake and it is clear,
wash his blanket in a bucket

that catches and floats the moon,
with a sprig of lavender

and a pinprick of blood
from his right thumb.


If he seizes again,
again become the breath-count

that mimics footsteps along
a forest floor,

your attention keened
to the scamper of twigs snapping,

the sliding-rustle of brush,
what might be hunting in his dark.


Hope that this season of stutters
where he dips from reach, is temporary.

And although this spell is for shallow
wounds still rinsing the red of morning,

not scars already printed on skin,
you will follow each step,

anything to tether him to this world
so that, at the very least,

you will have something to pull.