Two Poems, Two Sketches, Two Islands


Franklin on the Huon River, Tasmania, spring

I could linger on the shore of you,
like this bit of willow fluff
swirled sunward, a late-October
afternoon, to land somewhere,
take root.

See that little place
nestled halfway up a Huon slope?
Spring-green, steep, and, there-
the cluster of eucalypts,
a level niche where a whaler
built a stone cottage for a local girl,
and river, eastern shore, mountain
satisfied his longing for a distant horizon.

He built seagoing vessels for others,
came home at night, planted apple trees,
raised a few head of cattle and children.

The century moved along;
the grandchildren grew old,
sold the place to a neighbour;
now the neighbour's niece is looking
for a good price: Quaint, historic
cottage with an unfiltered view.

That's how it goes, doesn't it?
Sometimes we linger; other times
the hillside stays inside us,
and the river, and the dark
sleeping beauties of mountains.


Rental bees

The sun broke out today and the robin returned,
his song keen and consonant in April air.

Our mother used to play "The Robin's Return"
on the upright piano we inherited at one rental
behind an old inn, a house built in 1752.
The piano was not that old.

Neighbours and I know this robin,
saw him fledge, shooed away cats, cheered.

The sun brings old flies, huge, hairy,
from the attic to buzz at the windows.
Crocuses bloom along a south-facing foundation,
honeybees find them.

"Every honeybee fills with jealousy,"
Louis Armstrong sings,
"When they see you out with me.
"I don't blame them, goodness knows."

There was an article in the paper this week.
Honeybees have been disappearing. Lots of them.
Billions. Going off to die somewhere else
than near the hive. And worker bees
are forgetting to feed eggs and larvae.
A squash farmer is worried, says rental bees
will be hard to find this year.

Did we forget to sing "Honeysuckle Rose"
to guide bees home to the hive
when pollen has been gathered from far fields?

Who is playing "The Robin's Return" on an old upright?