Greenhouse Gallery Writers
Poems for the ‘Pollen Path 2013’
At the edge of the woods
where sunlight cuts the darkness,
the foxgloves stand
dappled pink, rose, white.
It is still, hot, summertime, empty,
a microcosm of strings of bees
cats-cradling from lip to lip, drawn
by the ultra-violet, the patterns of speckles,
the landing strip.
The bees squeeze into gloves,
dipping into nectar.
Then loaded, they back out,
take off, find the next bee-string
to the next sugar-laden trumpet.
Metabolism is a wasteful process,
ninety percent buzz,
ten percent honey.
The next foxglove beckons,
all that nectar
too far away to revive this bee.
Each hive has the queen’s character
and this one’s a wild swarm he caught
from a gorse bush, chanced it.
He’ll be evicted from the allotments
if they don’t start to behave.
Small unreasonable eyes
in a thicket of beard and long hair.
I imagine the bees creeping in, anchoring
themselves, buzzing lullaby.
His plot’s a plague of nettles, outstretched
bindweed, flight-ready dandelion heads.
Paths stamped through to the hives. Fag butts.
Rustlings in the grass. The council has nailed a list
of complaints to the end fencepost.
He says he’ll do the queen tonight.
I imagine he’ll reach into the soft turning crowd,
take her out and squash her like a pest.
He’ll add, instead, a dairy-calm, moonbeam-quiet creature,
bred in a box. She’ll breathe out
and the whole fizzing cloud, the rabble,
will breathe out.
Over the rest of the season we’ll notice
her influence spread like a tree coming into blossom,
like powder fungicide settling in the greenhouse,
like a cloud seeded with silver iodide
relaxing into rain.
And the beekeeper, almost imperceptibly changed.
Assembly Instructions for
February Field Agent
- Gather black sheep’s wool from the fence beyond the fairy mounds (Grid Reference NG410632), over the stile and follow the river to the silver birch plateau.
- Plait the petals of a GM daffodil (strain #459, Box 1). Twist and wrap the wool and petal strips to make a head, thorax and abdomen.
- With tweezers gather woven spider-web threads from a blue-tit’s nest and weave into two membranous fore-wings and two hind-wings for good manoeuvrability (using the cut-outs enclosed, Box 2), and insert into thorax.
- Take the stag beetle out of Tin A. Ignore hisses, clicks, shield and armour. Cut off its head with scissors (for a quick death). Cut off its legs.
- Insert the tiny chip (brain) connected to the eyes, flexible antennae and proboscis (Box 3).
- Push the long wire (Box 4) down the central back making a back bone. Insert the stag’s black legs.
- Squirt the whole thing in the pink reagent (Bottle 1). Leave for twenty-four hours (the compound will induce nerve growth from the spinal cord to legs, wings and brain).
- Super-glue the pollination and docking appendages (Box 5).
- Fine-tune the radio-control frequency and computer imaging.
Note: If you are a novice at flying and gathering, practice in an enclosed room for several days before taking outside.
The life of this bee is six weeks.
See April Bee for re-stocking.
Spring sunshine, and the tinny beat
of our MP3s as we swarm up the trees
armed with ladders and paint brushes.
Our mission: to deflower every flower,
impregnating each waiting corolla,
Conference, Victoria, Bramley and Cox.
In Westminster they pat each other’s backs,
they’ve found jobs for the jobless and
saved the crops; across a thousand orchards
headphones buzz, plugging out the silence.
Then, while the fruits ripen on the trees,
we’ll tell our children stories about bees.
Looking for the Victorians
It was the August heat and the lure
of the well-rim in the grass,
some hidden erosion way below
unsettling and shifting the garden waste,
sods of couch grass and broken terracotta
gradually inching down the shaft.
And as if the water harvesters might reveal themselves,
we join in, digging them out of the red brick column,
hefting our bucket-loads of spoil,
gripped by frenzied earth-moving,
deeper into the hole now
bare knees pressed onto the rubble
and then there are bees all around,
more and more of them emerging,
their deep cavity disturbed by our boots and spades
until a shovel lifts the angry nest from danger.
We give them a curved roof tile,
a house of bricks with a back door
but next day they have moved out.