‘A little ladder of sound’ – W. S. Graham

For Ben

Bede lived with
the secret of the carol,
where a single shaft
of light could find him
his own Lindisfarne,
saints leaning from
the gilded majuscules –
turmeric, turnsole, lac.

Bees know it too.
Hanging in their chains,
they draw brace comb
and fill each cell
till the waxy lungs
are gravid with sweetness,
hexagons echoing to
their minikin music.
Beaks of finches
on the Galapagos
calculate exactly
the caltrop’s resistance.
The little birds
pepper the landscape
of dead volcanoes
with their seed shells.

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