Rae Howells explains her poem Apis

You know how it is,

how you finish your PhD into the decline of local journalism and the newspaper you were running falls prey to the steel crisis and has to close,

how you don’t know what to do with your life but the one constant has always been writing words and getting them published

how you kind of worry that the writing and publishing business model probably isn’t enough to sustain you and your family and because you’re just past that big milestone birthday, the big-four-oh, midlife crisis time,

how you really have to face up to the fact it might be time to start looking around for something else to do with your life

how because you never do things the easy way you think maybe you’d like to be a farmer and so you find a field and start to grow lavender on it and learn how to make soap with the lavender

how you start digging the earth and feeling its weight, you come to know its smell, its taste, you really get to know the ins and outs of that field, the tilth, the ph value, the personality of that small corner,

how the earth literally gets under your skin and how you find yourself intimately engaged with all the different kinds of weed and bird and insect that calls a Gower field its home,

how you are sitting there one day unwinding creepers from your plants and fretting about the state of the environment and watching your lavender grow and all the little purple flowers have their mouths open around you,

how you have learned the names of all the many different kinds of bumble bee because, man, they absolutely love these flowers even more than you do, it’s like a bee party, and you’re sitting in this field with the summer going off all around you

how you’re thinking about this morning when the farmer next door showed you round his farm and told you about the Roman coins he unearthed when digging out his pond

how you are here with all this ancient life and ancient earth and you suddenly find yourself pondering about the Romans who must have stood on this patch of ground and what sounds they would have heard and what items they threw away at the very end, at the death, of their throw-away empire, just like we do now

how you’re thinking about languages and words and the bees keep coming up and bumping into you like drunks in a club, and you wish you could understand them and all the wise things they could probably tell you.

You know how it is.

Well, that’s how it was when I was thinking about writing Apis.

Apis appears in Issue 3 of Marble. Rae Howells is on Twitter as @raehowells

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