Insect empathy

Elastic, subtle, canny, rapid
or maybe merely dogged
which as the very word would suggest
_____can apply to them all too well,
animals inhabit
another world of cognition

from you and me
(whatever you reckon
about the deep intellect
_____of your siamese cat
which mainly behaves like a member
of your home team).

Agouti and antelope
are just not human at all,
though dolphins can sing along
_____if not exactly in tune,
while the lion with its pelt of gold
simply exceeds us, a king.

Sheer glory, those muscles rippling
under a sleek pelt — for those
who respond to such beauty;
_____we know too little
about the introspection
even of mares and stallions.

We are all tempted to say
that a dog could feel guilty:
our own Fido, at least.
_____But envy? Or nostalgia?
And does the bounding leopard
rejoice in his great leap?
–Chris Wallace-Crabbe

Owed to bees
Industrious servant of excellent fame,
You sting to protect the hive, then you die.
It seems as if you empathise the same,
As man's rare trait of heeding another's cry.
Instinct is such an unworthy name,
Which calls a selfless attitude, a lie.
You cause each flower to bear and contrive
To produce crops we need to survive.

Humans do not actively pursue a bee's favour.
Why does your fervour get you to gather
A glut of nectar. We benefit from your bee-haviour.
If you ever got lazy and languished rather
Than work like some buzz-sawing raver,
We would be left in a considerable lather.
The honey you make excessively, slowly degrades.
It's healthier than sugar, whose effectiveness soon fades.

Honey retards the growth of staphlycoccus aureus.
This resistant germ defeats all tries to destroy it.
Even antibiotics have been less than victorious.
Honey, lemon and chilli makes Thai, and we enjoy it.
O, striped insect, are you tired and less salubrious?
One extra great effort, you can deploy it.
To avoid a monumental natural disaster,
Heal yourself with your miracle bandaid plaster.
–Margaret Cameron

Chris Wallace-CrabbeChris Wallace-Crabbe chairs the newly-established Poetry Australia Limited. His New & Selected Poems is forthcoming from Carcanet Oxford Poets. He still plays tennis. 

Topic tags: new australian poems, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Margaret Cameron



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