The Human Bee – Carol Ann Duffy

The Human Bee
I became a human bee at twelve.
when they gave me my small wand,
my flask of pollen,
and I walked with the other bees
out to the orchards.
I worked first in apples,
climbed the ladder
into the childless arms of a tree
and busied myself, dipping and
duping and tackling, tracing
the petal’s guidelines
down to the stigma.
Human, humming,
I knew my lessons by heart:
The ovary would become the fruit,
the ovule the seed,
fertilised by my golden touch,
my Midas dust.
I moved to pears,
head and shoulders
lost in blossom; dawn till dusk,
my delicate blessing.
All must be docile, kind. unfraught
for one fruit –
pomegranate, peach
nectarine, plum, the rhyme1ess
And if an opening bud
was out of range,
I’d jump from my ladder onto a
and reach.
So that was my working life as a bee,
till my eyesight blurred,
my hand was a trembling bird
in the leaves,
the bones of my fingers thinner than
And when they retired me,
I had my wine from the silent vines,
and I’d known love,
and I’d saved some money  –
but I could not fly and I made no