Arts Council England, South West

Hive Inspection

by Rowland Molony

Through late October siftings of sunlight and leaf-shadow,
the quiet come-and-go of bees around my head, still launching
up and away into volumes of shining air, off to forage
while I fan smoke, and lift in turn the frames.

A black jostle of bodies from a ferment in darkness
into sunlight, they stalk their cells, purposeful, intent.
It’s what they came here for. Every one a fuse-particle.
Every one burning up a life.

Weeks back, one windless afternoon, they filled the air
With their sailing, cruising, thin murmuring voices,
Until some signal homed them in on a bramble bush, and they clotted.
A black ball, badged, fizzing and dripping among the manacles of thorn.

I blew smoke across the seeth of their fusion, lifted them – so light! –
laid them on a white sheet to coalesce with waifs and wanderers.
Later, up-ended onto frames, they broke the core and sank away
like dark waters lowering, going to ground. I fed them syrup.

Watched. And waited. Scouts returned swagged with pollen sacs.
Now, children of that swarm are the foragers who’ve found the ivy wall.
They come trousered in pollen, burrowing into the scrumble of bodies,
brewing enzyme-alchemy, mixing grains and nectar to make gold.

I am closing up their hive for winter. Seeing they have stores enough
to last them through. And still they fly, in the mesh of sunlight
and leaf shadow, garnering and murmuring in the Autumn sun.
I leave them to winter in their golden darkness.

click on the links below to read the other shortlisted poems
Ambition by Joan McGavin
Hive Inspection
Parched by Steve Tasane
The Forest Seamstress by Jenny Hope
The Badger is Asleep in the Hole by Kevin Sommerville
Butterflies by Melodie Nord
Parkinson's by Don Bloch
Nature’s numbers by Taylor Williams
Betrayed by June Ritchie
Olive by Louise Oxley
Driving to Wimborne by Kingston Lacy by Valerie Clarke Brajuha

    Poetry competition finalist Rowland Molony with his beehives
    Poetry competition finalist Rowland Molony with his beehives. Photo: Kevin Clifford