Venus Flower Basket by Phoebe Nicholson

dried flowers 2 by Inna Mosina

Venus Flower Basket

Each spring,
bees appear in the grass.
The warm wakes them and
the clockwork queens tick up and set off.
They dodge my ankles
in the dash to find a nest to fatten
with family.

Gulping pollen, gulping earth,
she pulls the wax into eggs,
into the gumming clack of grubs
fed endlessly,
to grow work,
to grow an army in the thin air.

A warm noise thickens the nest
and lungs thick with sugar,
nectar-heavy, a cramp of drones and daughters
fresh from the foxgloves, thistles, knapweeds,
picnics where they licked the stick from spoons.

The nest, rattling. Frantic.
Fur bristling. Feet working.
High summer, and then,
just as quickly,

And the long swell of silence
surviving the winter.
The queen bled out,
a crisped shell in the chill
impossibly poised on a still wing
on the floor of the hive.

Some days I cannot think to live like that.
Some days I would rather fold up underwater,
boom to the bottom of the ocean
to crawl with the ant-sand and
pricklecrabs of tiny lights and spikes
and eyeless.

My fierce gods, my sting paling –
the whales washing overhead.
A numb noise humming.
I’d find you there –
sponge-stems like a wedding gift,
bright as silver fork-tines.
We will climb them, slip in, and stay.

We will unevolve our eyesight.
We will find new ways to learn old things
and to love old things endlessly.

And the scream of bees, and
the dull of old age – the tick of a husk
on the hivefloor –
cannot pierce the peace of blue light
and blindness.

Phoebe Nicholson

Phoebe Nicholson is a poet and trainee lexicographer living in Oxford. She also edits the Catweazle Magazine, a quarterly arts magazine currently in its second year, inspired by the performance night which takes place every Thursday at the East Oxford Community Centre, The Catweazle Club.