Imagining the Full Hundred

Bees for book
‘Bees in the Vicinity’
I want to realise identity with all life,
even with such things as crawl upon earth.
GANDHI

I
Making Elderflower Cordial

Creatures can get very small -
their smallness comes as a big surprise.
These tinies are flecks of distress,
sprung pell-mell from the elder flowers
now I have squeezed the lemon juice there.

Is this earthenware bowl a scream-zone
with the creatures’ pitch out of my reach?
They tumble out of petals.

As we would, too, stumble to our streets
leaving our tea tables set, our potatoes
steaming in their skins, the six o’clock news
reporting the mayhem:

All our skies have soured. 
The rain is acid enough to kill
and God has been sighted
wielding the sun.

II
Armageddon

Aunty Toss shows the child
pictures of Armageddon, when God
punishes the sinners and all the saved
are saved. Craters open in the earth’s crust.
Roads erupt. There is storm.

Down the cracks fall cars with faces inside.
Down the cracks fall families, this way and that.
They are paper-chain people, falling, falling
because they are sinners, and Jehovah is cleaning up.

The child places a smudging finger on the page,
where a brown mongrel is cartwheeling down a crack
with his family of sinners. Her own dog
peed on the carpet when he was a pup,
which probably means oh no! the Black Spot.

Will God always find you, where ever you are?
Oh yes, says the aunt. Where ever you are.

But if there’s a bee in the vicinity
or a ladybird flying to her house-on-fire,
thinks the child, in not so many words.
Will they be found out for stinging,
for winging where they shouldn’t?

To her aunt, she frowns. She says: I see.

III
Sprouts

When we picked our first sprouts for supper, 
somebody said: Soak them in salt water for the bugs.
So I left them for an hour in a covered pan.

Later, when I lifted the lid, the sprouts had become
bobbing islands in an ocean, on which
the dwellers had gathered, survivors of the flood.

There were slugs, worms, and baby wood lice
balanced on the backs of bigger wood lice.

It was              a community in crisis.

And what could I do, gawping 
over the rim of that world, 
but become God?


IV
Beetle

I am sweeping the stone-slab patio, when a beetle
plummets from somewhere up and lands with a pip
just ahead of my broom. I home in for a look:
there are more legs than me and a shell,
but the symmetry is still recognisable.

The legs paddle the air. The beetle rocks on its back.
You can see the head working, the antennae waving.
Then, with a flip, the little someone is squat
on her feet, and ambling off towards the steps.

The Jains sweep at their paths
and how much weeping do they do
in their love for Life? 


V
Snail

Solitary snail
Skating up the window rink
One beat to the bar


From Imagining the Full Hundred (Gwasg Pantycelyn, 2003)

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