We of the Fox and Hounds poetry group were ordered by Her Bossiness, our leaderine, each to write an ekphrastic poem for a forthcoming public performance. An ekphrastic poem is one that comments on another’s work, usually in a different medium. Here’s mine. It doesn’t rhyme or scan, but apparently that isn’t fashionable nowadays:
A cohort of the little people
clusters together to form a cell;
not just one but many, to form a wall,
a home, a larder, a nursery.
They have no tools but their own bodies,
the sweat of which provides the clay for bricks and mortar.
They have no guidance but their own: no architect, no foreman.
The weight of their own bodies, holding hands,
provides the plumb line
so they can build vertical and true.
The cell base is three adjacent trapezoids:
one hundred and twenty degrees by sixty.
Slightly bowed, it also forms the base of three cells
offset on the far side of the wall.
Three trapezoids form a hexagon;
one of nature’s more efficient shapes,
repeated on a larger scale
at the Giant’s Causeway.
The cell walls run straight and true,
but offset at an angle sloping up,
so that the contents do not spill.
How large? They must decide what size.
They did this long before the metre was invented!
Five to the inch for workers;
Four to the inch for drones,
as they have done for fifty million years,
as fossils prove.