Working Order

Dora Malech
A still from Gentleman Scholar's motionpoem, "Working Order"

I stop midstride and cannot look away
from the ordinary

ticking of the multiverse,

and simple machines that glow suspended
in September’s light. I cannot attend

to my errands, errant, to think
I think of you and think

of you as I watch the sun slip
into something more and lick the horizon’s lip

and bend in close
to burnish a bee going down on a hosta flower. Most

of my memory’s relevant flash cards have fallen to flickers of trivia,
orphaned referents rendered arcana—

swarm cell, propolis, honey stomach, supersedure—
but still I remember

this creature to be innervated and that
in death it can still sting. I forget to what

end its venom lasts.
It and I lost in its act,

small gravity of its attention, patience stirring nectar,
I cannot say it gives the flower pleasure,

but I do believe there are no simple questions, senses, nor
machines. The afternoon’s true task is elsewhere.

Watch Gentleman Scholar's "Working Order" motionpoem

Dora Malech is the author of two books of poems, Say So (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2011) and Shore Ordered Ocean (Waywiser Press, 2009). Her work has appeared in publications that include the New Yorker, Poetry, and Tin House. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland, where she is an assistant professor of poetry in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.