Honeybee, Inner Hebrides

We sail to the Garvellachs with an autumn wind

along the string of islands. Heading out over the waves,

a honeybee lands on the guardrail of the yacht.

Ginger-brown and banded, he is a lost forager


who travels with us, resting to regain strength.

Where the gap is navigable, we put in at a place

of sheltered creek and grassy hollow. A few steps

and we drink at the miraculous well of sweet water


dashed by salt spray. The beehive cells nearby

are circles of stone, overlapping slabs, a domed roof.

It takes a whole rocky island to make a single drop

of honey. How far to fly? A solitary bee arrives


who grips the hazel-rod rim of a coracle, till he flies

up and off rapidly, to find the golden honeycomb.




from The Cream of the Well: New and Selected Poems (Luath Press, 2014), Valerie Gillies 2014, used by permission of the author

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