Mudgee, New South Wales,
unplanned overnight on the way
to northern rainforests.
Coffee road stop sold unmarked honey
in homely jars, $3 scrawled in shaky pen
onto silver lids.
Bought the last day of the year,
opened at home in early February.
Sunburnt hills to the nose,
viscous amber to the eyes.
Carmel on the tongue, not so sweet as tupulo,
less tart than Willamette Valley wildflower.
Mudgee honey, your floral source unknown –
bottlebrush, wattle, or waratah?
Bee labor and currawong birdsong
made your taste worth waiting for.
Drastic news now for bee colonies –
populations decline by more than half
on American coasts, in Europe and the UK,
navigation deranged by cell phones,
pesticides engineered crops, who can say?
This very morning,
among lavender blossoms
a lone bee working.
Striped crop insurer,
may you outsmart every threat
for how can a world be without honey?
from The Fires From Her Window, Six Chairs Press, 2008
HONEY FROM MUDGEE