A colony has been moved from the loft
this morning, the rafters scraped clear
of their stash of sticky gold.
Brick-sized ingots drip into buckets,
bowls overflow. The girl who cleans knows
honey’s royal role in winter remedies
and how it keeps you young. Her grandma’s
skin is soft as a baby’s at eighty, she says.
Today, she’s straining and storing the harvest
for the Dutch bankers who bought the house
with the honey in it. They know nothing about it,
she says. Just sniff at the scented mess.
They know even less about her, the help,
and the man who’s followed her from Waterford,
erected a tent in their orchard.
How she trickles downstairs, slides into night,
belly brimming amber, trembling
to be touched, to be tasted.
How the tent walls billow,
how the orchard is flooded with light,
and the lovers are humming somewhere
outside of themselves, without names,
or addresses, on sweet rooty earth, where air
smells of honey musk, erica in bloom.
By the end of the week, jars are sealed,
shelves stacked, tables scrubbed -
the kitchen reeks of Vim.
She is replete, still perfumed by him.
The bankers pay her to leave.
Some schoolgirls from Makunduchi
came to the water this afternoon
still in their hijabs -
upright monochrome sea birds,
wading in the green prairie
of the shallow, outgoing tide.
Laughing, they stooped and scooped water,
splashed each other,
got the hems of their black skirts wet.
The older women are always here,
crouched on the beach over lumpy sacks,
pounding soaked coconut fibre on rocks
to soften it for rope. Though the boatmen
begin to use nylon now, the women,
wound in scarves, still labour like crabs
that dig endless holes in sand
to collapse with every tide.
But the girls stood out, a sign
among the rag bag of small boys
squealing in deep jade pools.
And three older boys, nonchalant
in football shirts, hovered,
swaggering as boys do, held
in their sphere like Jupiter’s moons,
circling but never touching.
We watched it all from a distance
the girls being girls in the water
their white hijabs flapping: sails
straining in winds of change.