How a bee might see a flower – except, not really, because they *smell shapes* (kind of).
I’m brewing a project – a series of workshops and performances – around BEES (I always feel I have to capitalise it) for this summer, called BUZZ WORDS (I credit thanks to Mr Ian Billings for assistance with the title).
So, with that in mind I’ve been looking out for bee-related stories, inspiration and reading – and tweeting bee-related excerpts from poems too. (They should show up on my Twitter-widget, bottom right).
One such story was this – the amazing symbiosis and (literally) electrical relationship between flowers and bees: plants can ‘communicate’ with bees how much pollen they have ‘in stock’, by changing their electrical field (excuse my usual mangling of scientific language). But the weird thing is that, from other reading I’m doing, bees don’t see in the same way we do at all – and nor can we really understand their ‘plastic sense of smell’, where – get this – shapes have fragrances. All very synaesthetic, which lends itself hugely to poetry, I reckon…
There’s an inherent impossibility trying to perceive as another animal might – but for me, that’s part of poetry’s job. To enjoy the plasticity of language and our imaginative faculties – which are, to a large extent, uniquely human. So this poem was trying to point towards what ‘being a bee’ might be like, but on human terms. (We don’t have any others, do we?)
The title takes its name from a terribly courtly and gorgeous song by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (the acoustic version) – so do have a listen (after reading). Just as flowers and bees have a symbiotic relationship, so do bees and humans – but who ends up the ‘shadow’ is still unclear. Hence the conclusion of the poem, perhaps: certainty is always plastic, being is always relative.
Imagine that montage moment in the film
noir, where the PI ranges the city streets,
neon lights lurid and rain-streaked and longing:
thinking thinking thinking about
what it is he doesn’t
yet know. See it?
Imagine that, but now see it POV
and at nine-thousand times multiplicity
and instead of a He, you’re a She and you’re
flying flying flying about
at roof height, just knowing
Imagine that cutaway shot of a sign
which in the film says
GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS
all luminous-pink curving
tonguelike, now says:
ASTER X FRIKARTII.
That louche flashing purple
PRIVATE SHOW, now reads: SALVIA
NEMEROSA CARADONNA. Yeah?
And that raunchy Latin text becomes
a shape that bypasses your eyes
nine-thousand times and becomes the aroma
of everything – literally everything –
you have every wanted
or known. Right?
Imagine those nine-thousand
cutaway shots above a bar
of endlessly-pouring holy beer
have become a pendulum, pulling
your entire being with the breeze
of its transcendental scent,
the gravity of its colour. Yes.
And imagine that there’s no mystery,
only endless little shadows of yourself shining,
weaving through every single city street,
drinking drinking drinking in
the plastic certainty