top of page

Poems by Jennifer Kornberger

The Beehive  

The bees draft nectar zones on a map
as thin as the tissue of the sun. They gust
out of the hive, coil up into the solitary
drone of their flight paths and disappear
into furrows of sky.

I get close enough to the hive to see
the blood red pollen sacs on the thighs
of a bee, the striped purpose, the stumbling
crawl after they land, as if weighed by the
simple grief of clover.

In the late afternoon the garden is on
heat with a deep liqueur fume, bees
make a reckless toss from the sky back
to the hive, dead bees are pushed out of
the slit opening into a tidy pile, the able
shear off into the glut of light.

Towards evening a straggle of workers
gathers on the narrow veranda of the hive,
ignoring the curfew of night they sway
minutely, re-living their chaste fumbling
with the undergarments of calendula.

At night I put my ear against
the windowless box of the hive:
They are not asleep! The whole citadel
is roaring in one amber voice
drilling an umbilicus of sound
towards the buried sun.

For days the bees clot
on the outside of the hive
ripening for the swarm

the moment comes as a
thickening of the light,
they pitch above in a wild
and precise choreography

a laval flow of bees
spills from the opening
and is sucked into
the spiralling thrum

they expand into a planet
of droning atoms,
ascend into suburban space

as they pass over the house
their wordless mantra
intones the interval
between a warning
and a blessing

it enters the dark chord
of the body,
weighs the heart against
the pure scale of honey
and passes on.


If I entered your garden
I would dig you up like a bulb
thinking at first you were a stone
but no, tea coloured and tapered
by Spring you would lie in the palm
of my hand, the dirt still clinging
to your hair.

I would store you in the shed
a bulb inside a brown paper bag
allow you two seasons to dream
chewing on the rind
of the moon in your
dormant gloat.

In the Autumn I would examine your
bald ovule for signs of life
shrug the bag into the fridge
faking a decent winter
jostle you with fruit
mistake you again and again
for something edible.

Eve, I have to remember
which way to plant you
when the rain comes.

Something more than
the wrapped spear of an iris
is depending on me.

Canticle to the Sun​

Throughout the night the sun
speaks to me in an undertone
like a lover who, returning late
from a gig, slides into bed still
throbbing with music.

There is a rinse of quiet before dawn
but I’m hung over with pure
timbre, my bed a dim landscape

then the sun floats up out
of earth and huge phrases
fall back into my blood
red into red.

It climbs as a glazed wafer
crumbling light and the
fine dust of the earth
rises to eat it.

Above the blue lintel
of sky the zodiac bellows
and grunts, but cannot contest
the impeccable rhythm
the stainless conduct of
this star.

And all day the sun uses me
as its dial, even here, sitting
at my desk, it feels out
the soft violet shadow I
cast on the slate.

bottom of page