Broken arches and ragged walls –
this time-worn structure lies abandoned
open to the sky.
A site of great activity
of business to produce
and reproduce –
here lived a busy population
now gone. They and their progeny
have all moved on
heavy with possessions
leaving this building
to start again.
No evidence of artillery
damage, bombs or snipers
no pocked plaster –
now these rooms, once good
accommodation, are forsaken
Polished floors and smoothed corners
rounded steps from frequent use
by inmates, born
and bred within these narrow cells
where no space is wasted
in neat design.
Nothing left of them
except a lingering mustiness
Ancient sweetness remains somehow
embedded long after their departure.
The bees have flown
each hexagon has done its work –
the pods end in a point,
repeating patterns of ruination.
My hand crumbles masonry fragments to the
lightness of comb.
This is a busy time for the bee keeper - it's the time for swarming.
What a word!
I say it several times, and feel its strangeness.
And its onomatopoeic quality, with the initial hissing consonant starting within the warm darkness of the mouth, to be funneled and directed, projected from the compressed lips and sent forth with the dropping of the jaw - especially if you take your time over it. Which bees do.
The word's been spoken, the bees gone.
Of course, it's all a lot more complicated.
There are signs before it actually happens, but even the experienced keeper can be caught out: suddenly, the decision's been made, though they may well hang around for a bit.
And swarms can arrive, as well as depart.
And the whole colony may not go.
But at some point, the bee keeper is left with what remains: ruins comparable to the Great Pyramid or Silbury Hill, so carefully, painstakingly, laboriously was it all constructed.
And so I find myself, like some archaeological tourist, marveling at, picking over, peering through and wandering amongst this network of cells.
The bees have done their work, lived their lives, and gone.
In an attempt to resist anthropomorphism, I draw on hexagons - six stanzas of six lines, with an emphasis on symmetry and regularity. But it's difficult, as I'm left with a vision of abandonment if not destruction, which cannot but remind me of human swarming...