The Beekeeper To His Assistant

You must understand from the beginning
that the hive is a mind and one
you will not comprehend. Behind

the frantic to-ing and fro-ing of the bees
order prevails: the honeycomb from nothing
builds itself by geometry alone, cell by cell,

the Queen its centre and circumference.
Even the pollen-drunk dance of the messenger
returned from gardens heavy with blossoms

is a kind of mathematical waltz, calculating
in each step the sun’s slow orbit through
the heavens. For all the talk of the nuptial flight

no one has ever seen it, though it must happen.
Once in early summer I did see the Queen hover
by the hive’s entrance awaiting the drones.

And they came, hundreds of them, greedy
for her scent. I saw them disappear into the shade
of the meadow in her wake. That was all.

When they returned to the hive at dusk
exhausted and sticky from their work, their wings
were snapped and they were thrown to the earth.

Not even the Queen can evade the will of the bees.
Unknowingly she gives birth to her own successor
incubated in the brood and hidden from her.

Without a sign her servants descend on her
in a swarm and she is smothered – by violence
the honeycomb becomes her honeyed mausoleum.

Yet despite these explanations I have told you
nothing. And the beehive has its secrets.

I live for those moments in late evening
beneath the lilac blossoms when the bees
gather in a cloud about me, buzzing flecks

of light like Einstein’s vision. It is a door
into the heart of summer where time
seems to slip away and is lived through.

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