This morning I watched
the pale green cones of the rhododendrons
opening their small pink and red blouses –
the bodies of the flowers
were instantly beautiful to the bees, they hurried
out of that dark place in the thick tree
one after another, an invisible line
upon which their iridescence caught fire
as the sun caught them, sliding down.
Is there anything more important
than hunger and happiness? Each bee entered
the frills of a flower to find
the sticky fountain, and if some dust
spilled on the walkways of the petals
and caught onto their bodies, I don’t know
if the bees know that otherwise death
is everywhere, even in the red swamp
of a flower. But they did this
with no small amount of desperation – you might say: love.
And the flowers, as daft as mud, poured out their honey.
– Mary Oliver, from House of Light (1990)