Shirley Bell

Shirley Bell edits the literary magazine Her work is widely anthologised & appears in many magazines and books. She gives readings & workshops all over the UK. Her work is archived in the Special Collections Library Lincoln University.

Tell it to the Bees.

The garden hums. Bees guzzle in the throats
of the lush flowers and butterflies clot the blossoms.
The simple flowers are full of nectar. Sometimes
the hives are dressed in mourning. Someone has
rapped softly and told it to the bees. Their hive servant
who managed their perfect world has gone.
As the coffin settles in its grave so gentle hands
lift and set down the colony with its waxen cells
like catacombs. And reverently lay out their share of
funeral meats and drinks at the entrance where the bees
dance their maps; carry the pollen in their baskets
to feed the hive in their secret waxen chambers.
Cells dripping with nectar metamorphosing into honey:
that gold that gives the gift of prophecy. Telling the bees.
But there is a stutter in the rituals. The threats grow like
the larvae in their elaborate chambers,
those perfect hexagons. The doubled flowers
flounce their skirts. Nectarless. The bees in their quietened hive
are alive instead with Varroa mites, crawling in their plush.
And all the words of prophecy roll on the tongue.
Foul Brood and Nosema,
Colony Collapse and neonicotinoids.
Tell it to the bees.

Shirley Bell

Poem published in The 2016 TEMPLAR ANTHOLOGY

Dark is a Way and Light is a Place: Published Poems 1982-2016, redplantpress ISBN: 1-530895-13-8 £5.75
behind the glass, pamphlet created as part of MA in Creative Writing, University of Lincoln, 2013 lulu for redplantpress ISBN: 978-1-2913358-3-5 £9.95
Poetry of Hospitals and Waiting Rooms Paperback, 2013, a collection of her blog poetry written in the lead up to her husband’s heart surgery, and on sale in aid of The British Heart Foundation, redplantpress, ISBN: 978-1-2915600-1-5 £8.95
Anvil New Poets: 1 anthology including Shirley Bell, Oktay Rifat, Patricia Doubell and Mimi Khalvati and 6 more, 1990, Anvil Press Poetry, ISBN: 978-0-8564623-0-6 £5.99
Poetry Introduction: No. 6 anthology including Shirley Bell and 7 others, 1985, Faber & Faber, ISBN: 978-0-5711354-3-1 from £0.01 (Amazon, search by ISBN)
Six: The Versewagon Poetry Manual anthology edited by Ian McMillan including Shirley Bell and 5 others, 1985, Rivelin Grapheme Press, ISBN: 978-0-94761213-9-3 £7.18

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