Skip to main content

Ruins


Ruins





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
and forgotten.

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
of propolis.
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,
an illusion
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.

Swarm.

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.
Then closure.

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...


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A plague on all these houses

It's a great poem, Lowell's For the Union Dead. I only recently came across it - at least, that's what I thought - but it's been grunting (I choose the word advisedly) away in my head ever since, especially that fourth verse. Behind their cage, yellow dinosaur steam shovels were grunting as they cropped up tone of mush and grass to gouge their underworld garage. It took a little while for me to realise why. Before (I thought) I'd read it, I wrote a poem about the new housing estates springing up round our little town. I was thinking about the various creatures that had lived on the field that was to be covered with houses - sheep primarily - and then those that were to follow. The first were, well, a sort of dinosaur. Here's my second verse: At first it was the one-armed monsters, set free within their caged arena to trundle round, and gently paw the ground, then pile up mounds of earth accompanied by Lego men. I was pleased

My blog this month isn't a poem – nor even several...

  My blog this month isn't a poem – nor even several. No, this time it's a set of little films of poems. After sharing them with several of you, I apologise straight away if you've already seen them, but you might be interested to hear some thoughts on the matter. And if you don't want to hear me thinking about making films of poems, just ignore what follows and go straight to the YouTube link.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbwJYkDeGIs&list=PLbC1BOoALpN-xyuGJCIAqJjImAi1aAfrY   I hope you enjoy the films. And please tell me what you think! You may remember a couple of the poems appearing in past blogs, with me writing about the possible presentation of poetry in this way. Time was when poetry existed solely as the spoken or sung word – it took some time for it to be written down.  Now, for the most part, it exists and flourishes in both these forms. Recently, and refreshingly, it seems to have been recovering more of its original orality. Now we liv

The Signpost

Here’s a signpost – originally distinctive, being unique and handmade, and now even more so, with the evidence of ageing.   … numbers, distances, which way? While all signposts are interesting in their duty to inform, their presentation of choices and their simple declarative presence, I find this one special. It’s not just that it has much to say in terms of where you actually are, in which direction you might choose to go, how far your destination is (down to quarter mile accuracy) and even if your chosen method of transport is suitable. It’s also special in the simple elegance of its design, with the arms’ supports and the bevelled edges of the main post rising to that unexpected point. But the specialness goes further.  My friend James Ravilious took me there just at this time of year, over twenty years ago.  It was then upright and brilliant white, with crisp black letters. He certainly thought it was special, photographing it lovingly, in May 1988 ( Chawleigh Week Cross –