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Keki N. Daruwalla, from The Glass-Blower: Selected Poems

Suddenly the Tree

The hive slept like Argus
its thousand eyes covered with bees.

The light as it fell through the neem tree
was a marine light, in which
yellow moths set sail
from one perforated shadow to another.

The hive was mystic,
a drugged mantra
with its dark syllables asleep.
As the afternoon wore on
the honey-thieves came
and smoked the bees out
and carved out a honey-laden
crescent for themselves
and left a lump of pocked wax behind.

The bees roamed the house,
too bewildered to sting the children.
At night they slept, clinging
to the tree fork, now scarred with burns.

Sparrows and squirrels, a bird
with a black crest and a red half-moon
for an eyelid bickered over
the waxed remains the next day.
Then with a drone of straining engines
the bees rose like a swarm of passions
from a dying heart, and left.