"The Beekeeper To His Assistant"

                       by Noel Duffy
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.
This work is protected under international copyright law and cannot be published or posted online without the permission of Noel Duffy.
Noel Duffy was born in Dublin in 1971 and studied Experimental Physics at Trinity College, Dublin. After a brief period in research he turned his hand to writing and went on to co-edit (with Theo Dorgan) the anthology Watching the River Flow: A Century in Irish Poetry (Poetry Ireland, 1999). He was the winner in 2003 of the START Chapbook Prize for Poetry for his collection, The Silence After and more recently the Firewords Poetry Award. A play,The Rainstorm, was produced for the Dublin Fringe Festival in 2006. His work has appeared widely in IrelandPoetry Ireland Review, Film Ireland and The Dublin Review) as well as in the UK, the US, Belgium and South Africa.  His poetry has also been broadcast on RTE Radio 1’s Sunday Miscellany and Today with Pat Kenny. He has also been a recipient of an Arts Council of Ireland Bursary for Literature in 2003 and 2012.

Noel holds an MA in Writing from the National University of Ireland, Galway, and has taught creative writing there as well as at the Irish Writers’ Centre, Dublin, and script writing at the Dublin Business School, Film & Media Department. He remains in Dublin.