Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Tell the bees

There is an old tradition that, when there is a death in the house, you have to tell the bees - whisper the news into the beehive, or they will take offence and leave.

In May a very close, very dear friend died suddenly, without illness or warning. I couldn't, and can't, write about her directly but for several days following her death, some bees presented me with a metaphor on my morning walks.

Tell the Bees

Something has plundered the bees' nest.
At the wall's foot, lichened brick
used to meld into a tangle of moss and ivy:
a ragged tear bleeds earth over the path.
Bees tread circles on the spilled soil,
wings quivering, shifting soil from place
to place and back again.

Each day I pass, I see them working;
fragments of moss, scatters of dry grass,
pulled in to cover the wound.

The sun has faded bare earth,
shrivelled exposed roots;
ivy leans over the edge of the hole,
blending into the dusty green
of the bees' repairs.


  1. Absolutely beautiful poem. Thought provoking, nice imagery, and the bees thing is a plus - as you maybe able to guess from the name of my blog, I REALLY like Bees. :P

    Oh, it's Sarah by the way, from your poetry class last year. :) I signed up for poetry this year... seems hard to believe I'm going into my third and final year now! After coming so close to a first overall in the module for the past two years, I'm determined to pull all the stops out this year!

  2. Hi Sarah!
    Thank you for commenting - I'm glad you like it. I hope your poetry class goes well - I'm sure it will if you keep on learning from workshopping the way you have been doing.
    I'll be around because I start my PhD in October, so I'll see you on campus sometime.

  3. Thank you Michelle - I'm too close to it to assess it at all.