Hymnal / Wild Bees

 i.m. Martin Harrison

 

Judith Beveridge

 

As the water scats over pebbles, as the creek thins

and trickles, there’s a sound that seems pirated from a flock

of seed-gathering parrots and a muster of hot-gospelling crows.

 

Along the mud, spoonbills scribble, their bills as frenetic

as compass needles trying to orienteer quick passage.

It’s the egrets I watch most — poised, quiet as Gilbertine nuns,

 

who with naked feet, seem about to step along a corridor

and enter their prayer cells. I don’t come here often —

there are spiders, ticks, thick-bellied snakes, and toadstools

 

as bloodless as the fingers of morticians’ gloves.

Once I saw a headless possum, and a pit bull mauling a lizard

it had clawed out from the dampness of a log.

 

There are trails of bull ants talking chemically and incessantly

to each other, bits of repeating code, and where

the melaleucas leak tannin into the runnels, you’d swear

 

it was a spill of beef’s blood. But sometimes I like to come

and notice how the spore-cases of the fruiting bracken

are like hemmings of brown wool, or to smell the leaf rot

 

curated along the path by a team of hard-working

organisms. Mostly, I come to watch bees fly around

the high heat of their hive and swarm their weight

 

towards the gum blossoms in a light soot of yellow.

Today, I see that the limb housing the hive has fallen,

shattered. Some bees lie trapped in the spill. Some bees

 

will have fled with the queen. This hive, once a murmuring

blood-warm gourd is silent, and I’ll never see again

the bees’ among the wildflowers, or see them busy

 

in the depths among the stamens, moving from cup

to cup as though they were flames lighting candles.

I’ll never hear their lingering vibrato like a mind enamoured

 

of its own music, getting right each thought’s pitch and hum,

its bearing and its course. Bees no longer alive, or high

in their hive, no longer making clear elaborated nectar.

 

Judith Beveridge is the author of six collections of poetry, most recently Devadatta’s Poems and Hook and Eye: a selection of poems. She first became friends with Martin Harrison in 1979 when he was caretaker at the Quaker meeting house in Sydney and they maintained a strong friendship until his death in 2014.

1 reply

  1. Is anyone so richly sensitive to the sonic play of language and to the intrinsic goodness of the natural world (even if juxtaposed with the violence of pit bulls) as Judith Beveridge​; this is a miraculous poem – what a way to be remembered!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: