In a valley beside the black wood,
this year there are fifty-two beehives —
orange and blue cubes with zinc lids,
raised on long girders.
Last winter, under a foot of snow,
they were square marshmallows in a white field.
By a minuscule door lay a few dead bees
and one or two flew about distractedly
but the bees inside hovered in a great ball
shivering to keep warm, to stay alive,
moving always inwards towards the globe’s centre
or outward towards its surface.
As much as their hunt for sweetness
or their incidental work, fertilising the world’s
scented, myriad-coloured flowers
to bear fruit for all earthbound, airborne creatures,
this is part of their lives,
these long months of shivering, of bee-faith.
From Keats Lives, Carcanet Press, 2015