In her early weeks as a bee
she learnt to thrive in a colony of thousands,
to defend the hive, and clean.
She revealed her dream of world pollination,
sought an audience with the queen.
In her waggle dance class,
she threw the sharpest moves,
soon knew where to choose the juiciest nectar,
how to cruise the rural sector for foxgloves,
clover, borage, and how to lose herself
in the intoxicating forage
for pollen from oilseed rape.
Hard to say when she first sensed
that petals seemed less bright,
when she first felt compelled
to embrace the varroa mite. Hard to know
when she first noticed drones
trying to mate, mid-flight,
with cabbage whites, golf balls, crows.
In time, though, the line she was making wavered
till she began to return
with fag ends, ring pulls, plastic
in her pollen basket –
and finally, burbling workers’ rights,
she went on permanent strike.
Now she’s stopped co-opting bonnets,
crawls on flawed knees
through her hive of inactivity,
waxes hysterical in spherical combs –
Honey, I’m home.
Susan Richardson: I am a Wales-based poet, performer and educator whose third collection, skindancing, themed around human-animal metamorphosis and our dys/functional relationship with the wild, will be published by Cinnamon Press next year. I am currently poet-in-residence with the Marine Conservation Society.