“Bees in Transit: Osage County” reflects Hogan’s interest in the so-called Osage murders, which were researched by the Osage scholar Carol Hunter. Hogan based her first novel, Mean Spirit (1990), on this work. The novel is set in Oklahoma during the 1920’s, soon after the discovery of oil on the allotment lands of the Osage people, and provides a fictionalized account of the lives of Osage landowners who were murdered, most probably for their oil rights. By the novel’s end, the Osage people were abandoning their former town life and the white world, leaving behind the luxuries they had purchased with their oil money. A major theme of the novel is the suffering of the Osage women, some of whom were courted by white men interested only in their land rights and some of whom were murdered outright.
The suffering of the Osage women is also depicted in Hogan’s poem “Bees in Transit: Osage County,” first published in the volume Seeing Through the Sun. This poem begins with the image of “a hundred white bedroom chests/ being driven to the county dump,” a reminder of the possessions that the Osage left behind. Like these white chests, beehives draped in white sheets are transported by truck away from their home and abandoned. “The air is filled with workers/ on strike,” and the cold air meets the smoke of a brush fire. Green Osage oranges fall, “hitting earth/ where dark women, murdered for oil/ under the ground/ still...
(The entire section is 508 words.)