burt’s bees

We were on a mission / for hand lotion / burt’s bees, to be specific / because apparently it’s a cruelty free cosmetic / and there’s something about the company ethic / that makes them seem warm & empathetic / and, anyway / what can you say? / the whole bee thing / has an attractive buzz / a cute stripey jacketed fuzz / that definitely appeals to us / (ignoring / the whole sting thing / because anyway – bees aren’t like wasps / the psychos of the hymenoptera squad / bees are too busy stuffing pollen in their panniers / to bother you with their venomous derrieres / and at the risk of spoiling the poem’s momentum / here’s a handy little addendum / how to tell the difference between poison and venom / well, apparently, / it’s the delivery / that qualifies each for either category / for example – if you bite a snake and you die – it’s poisonous / but if a snake bites you and you die – it’s venomous / which is fabulous / it’s basically who’s got the fangs, who’s doing the jabbing / who’s attacking & who’s snack grabbing / so now you’ve got that clear in your head / you can come across as impressively well read)

but I digress
back to the quest

it was getting late
we had no time to waste
we marched into a department store post haste

there was an elderly sales assistant / watchful & efficient / in a tight blue jacket and slacks / like the abdomen and thorax / of some giant shop assistant insect / she was perfect / she reminded me of Dad’s sister Ollie, my aunt / who also wore her hair bouffant / so like a hive / I expected to see four or five / actual bees / buzzing round her insouciantly / I thought – if ever there was someone to help with our task / this would be the woman to ask / she was like an apiological Marie Antoinette / a high retail figure of the bee-keeping set / with a golden smoker and silver net / waiting in line for her queenly accession / we hurried over to ask our question

burt’s bees? burt’s bees? she sweetly hummed / as her hairy fingers on the counter thrummed / burt’s bees burt’s bees / that sounds so nice / especially when you say it twice / don’t you think? she said / with a tiny nod of her head / I suppose because any gesture too big / would risk upsetting that marvelous wig / I have a feeling…! she gave me a wink / there are one or two left in stock I think

she led us through a maze of aisles / that wound around for miles and miles / finding her way through the various zones / presumably by pheromones / moving so fast she lost us twice / (her hair was a handy location device) / burt’s bees! she suddenly stopped with a flourish / gesturing in earnest / to an impressive concession / a burt’s bees heaven / a promotional stand / from ye olden, golden honey bee land / weirdly & wildly grand / a comb-a-copia of honey themed stuff / from soaps and gels to powder puffs / balms and ointments, soaps, emollients / the grandest stand in the whole damned department / surrounded by a swarm of clockwork bees / circling on silver arms mechanically

the shop assistant surveyed it serenely / then gave us a look that was loving and queenly / when you’re done you’ll find me yonder she purred / feeding in a field of lavender / then she stretched out her arms and rose from the floor / and flew away through the department store / the whole thing causing quite a commotion / but anyway – we bought the lotion


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