Stopping For A Walk In Reserved Land Near Murra Murra Poem by Martin Harrison

Stopping For A Walk In Reserved Land Near Murra Murra

Rating: 2.7

It’s a stop-over on a Spring day
when, walking through the bush, I see them.
Bees. Wild bees, already clustered,

already swarmed. A galaxy of living honey,
they hang on a branch
in a swollen, brown gourd, a primitive shape

caught on the move. All gouache, clay, and bubble,
it’s hard to fix it for what it is,
frightening to imagine stumbling into its pelting dust,

having just landed from the horizon’s blue planes
of Spring light, dwarf ti-tree, red earth.
Pummeled soil, hanging, between sky and ground,

it takes on a flickering, gold-dyed sheen,
gold as in a strand of hair
that’s threaded, quartz-like, in that ochre mass: bodies, heads, legs,

writhing on each other, pinioned there.
It’s as if each is already a future cell.
Or as if the air has opened up a hasty, war-time grave

where corpses, tossed into the pit, drown each other
with their awkward, rotting limbs.
This swarm is that exposed. That stark.

A wattle-and-daub affair, compacted
in a furious swerve
to a taller tree’s white branch, the swarm hangs there

a haze of movement
and molecules. It’s as sharp and deafening

as if all the body’s sensations arrive
at one go, or as if a life-time’s
thoughts are suddenly, spontaneously, recalled

by someone moving, at the very edge of life,
when the mind’s
sky-white with memories, swelling with

the fruit of experience, swarming
at death,
yet holding all feelings together;

or as if, veil-like, it’s summed up later (generations later,
after the earth
has soaked up spilt blood and honey-streams)

by the philosopher who says:
Things are not things,
but groups, sets, swarms, flux —

playing their music of ant
and bird. The swarm
is light. It’s energy. Fruit of the desert’s edge.

Fruit, indeed, is fruit. Yet, whether
in grief or orgy,
these bodies pile on top of each other:

they’re a huge brown pear,
they’re an outsize bobbin of unwashed flax,
hanging from a yellow-gum.

It takes for ever to focus on. It swirls.
It implodes in the branches,
hanging like a wind-harp

of silk-glitters and half-dried mud
with outriders taking off and returning,
like flies to a carcase. Not beautiful,

dark, full of anger, full of sting,
it changes shape
like a pot spun between invisible hands,

slowly growing bulbous, then tapering to a narrow neck,
in danger of falling apart
or attacking like a Mongol horde

yet still clustering, still forming itself
from Spring’s exile
and the struggle of poisoned virgin grubs —

till it steadies its larval magic
into an Earth-Mother drone
of particles, dynamos, ancestral flight.

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