Poetry Daily: http://www.poems.com/

Winter Bees


Very deep,
very mobile
the swarm-song
sounds in my chest:
not a beat, not breath

but an older music
when a head
turns on a pillow
or hips lift—

one gesture becoming another
in the room
where a shoulder moves
close, moves away
uncovering a picture-window

filled with blossom-streaks,
pale trailers
that might be rain
or flight,
but these are flowers—

swarming white and eager
on dark branches,
while the Airbus
shakes the glass.


Rises from long grass
to make a mouth between the trees
rising and opening
as if it will never be done

when it opens its dark mouth
breathing and rising
sound filling the space of sound
mostly secret most necessary

trembling and calling
itself out of the dark
ceaselessness of itself
unendingly re-forming

dark in the darkened clearing
between the maize headlands and trees
with the evening gathering
in the long grass—

Bee Samā

If God were a limitless geometry,
that perfection world
reaches clumsily over itself
to articulate—
If he could be glimpsed in the pattern
of limitless addition
but were not that pattern, beautiful
though the turquoises
and greens of the glazed tiles are,
so beautiful
that the eye swoons, dropping through endless form
into form—If God
were neither principle nor dream, resting
his cheek on the earth
for a moment you might have imagined,
a gift of pure grace
from a Perfection that is bodiless
here and everywhere,
bees could be his servants and prophets,
demonstrating beauty
is a kind of humility—
Tonight, they offer us
the hive's aroma.

In the Karst

Here: that old cult—
boards bleaching
in couch grass
on highlands
                     where no-one goes
along the limestone runnels
above ruined farms—
Remember secrets,
and abandoned hulls
that turn nailed flanks to the sun,
            in a murmur of bees,
bees flecking the air
their hum a rumour—
old tunes—

Winter Bees

Every year
the weak January sun
brings bumblebees
nudging and thudding against the wood
of my work shed—
which must smell good, some old pine sweetness
soft in the grain
under the blue cracked paint, a blue
miracle sky.
Still, this banality moves us—
a small spring
resurrection, in the time
just before spring.

What tender precision
directs each bee
to our recurring conversation,
its compass set
by the sun's enormous arc?
The bee Christ
wears his crown of gilt and mourning,
of the winter swarm. Out
of strength came forth
. Our dark
hearts are hives.

Note: "Winter Bees" comes from Coleshill, to be
published by Chatto and Windus in March 2013, and
was commissioned by Poet in the City/The City of
London Festival.

Fiona Sampson

Poetry Ireland Review

Issue 106

To view this poem online, visit the Poetry Daily archive at http://www.poems.com/archive.php
View a large-print version of this poem