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Stings (Hughes)

Page history last edited by Sarah Peterson 15 years, 5 months ago


“Stings“ by Ted Hughes


Cold the apple tree tonight,

The crippled alphabet, the basketry

Is infiltrate by starlight

Shorn of the comfort far away


Rheumatoid roots ease their joints.

You wonder if they hurt.

These February nights they have to grow

The air slides an arm under your shirt.


Leafless, the old boughs are haunted

By the harvest they bore--- you feel all

Their blossom still aching, that summer.

The heart beat hard and full


And you, your mind elsewhere,

Cannot lose a second of it

From its place on your watch

Till that first bee touches your hair—


It struggled and tangled and stung

According to the book.  You were flung,

a head-shot, away through sunlight shrapnel

As bees planted their volts, their thudding electrodes.


They had the weaponry, the Jihad fury

You ducked under your mushroom,

Your house-bloom, bolted right through your burrow

And out a door, and into a different sunlight


And stood there, clawing out of your hair

Sticky, disemboweled bees,

Where you thought you were safe.  Till the whole air

With a shout of tingling shock


Jerked at your hooked scalp---and a bee,

Over the house-top, a blind arrow,

Locked into your hair.

                        How many followed?

That was new knowledge about bees!

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