LIVING IN THE SHADE OF NOTHING SOLID

LIVING IN THE SHADE OF NOTHING SOLID

 To the old house at the end of the street
 with more history in its walls than bricks:
 not every year, but most, the bees would come back.
 Only a few at first, to the small study-room
 at the end of the long passage
 and bump against the glass.
 It was always at the same time; probably same day
 although we never checked.
 And occasionally if the window was left ajar -
 before the late spring swung to summer
 they would come in, and swarm on walls; furniture;
 anything - looking for a hive.
 And each time someone would come with boxes,
 gadgets and gear and take them away.
 But this year it was an old man
 who walked with two sticks and didn't speak much
 who brought nothing.
 Asked to be shut in with them alone,
 and listen to their song. Half an hour later,
 he told us if we didn't want them back,
 they'd have to be destroyed.
 'Bees have the longest recall - and the best,
 they keep coming back here - looking for their tree.'
 Cut down probably a hundred years ago, but
 roots still deep in their collective conscious dance;
 buzzed messages of shape, type and height;
 the inherited mind-maps of memory
 He poisoned the swarm and they have not returned.
 And with them, the tree we never knew was there -

 that died the same day,
 we stopped the bees believing in it.

VILLANELLE

after the painting THE POTTER'S WIFE, HORSE AND TRAP by Arthur Boyd, 1969-70

Where does innocence end and grief begin?
 A dog that faithfully follows behind
 Stops at the centre of the wheel's brief spin.

 The woman is held in a dream-web thin
 In evening mist ever is leaving to find
 Where innocence ends and grief begins.

 Her husband works in shadowy dawn
 Throwing white clay - cold, wet and fine
 Bent at the centre of the wheel's brief spin

 Each are affected by lose and win
 The pivot of what is both sighted and blind
 Where innocence ends and grief begins.

 She travels in places he hasn't been
 And he explores in secret - new shape and line
 Each at the centre of the wheel's brief spin.

 Neither will inquire the intent of the sun
 Nor the dog that faithfully follows behind
 Stopped at the centre of the wheel's brief spin.
 Where innocence ends and grief begins.

 
 
 
© 2020 Jeff Guess