Honey

1 February 2012

Walking home along New Canterbury Road
I pass under a eucalypt I can’t name – the rumour
of honey, the frayed brake lining of magpies –

and I think of our walk
around Manly Dam the first week of summer,
the day heating and finally loosing its energy
in a brief drizzle,

cooling the water dragons curious as we are,
as they retreat only the distance
we approach, and the shower

so short that after your father calls
your mobile, worried about Christmas plans
before you leave for Darwin,
and then puts on your mum,
the shower’s passed –

then there’s something we’ve already left behind,
we stop and turn back a few paces, sensing
we’ve missed – what? a hum
like a distant generator,
                                           or a narcissist’s sigh –

and two yards above us, a swelling
in an ironbark, inhaling and exhaling bees:

and knowing next to nothing about bees,
unsure if they’re natives
or feral imports, we watch –
                                                   some of them
burnished as museum medallions,
classic sheened bands of black and gold
pure as a home brand,

and others, their hive-sisters,
muffled stripes of dusky and tarnishing bronze
mixed with brown the colour of shit,

and, behind the honeycomb in the air
with summer dirt’s tang as it lifts, glowing
with the sun’s penumbra as it dips
behind the hill and trees –
                                                the after-image
that lasts, as we look away again,
is another thing gone from sight.

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