Apis mellifera

She’s in overdrive. An inner spring propels
that dogged gathering, that persevering flight.
Among the thick dust of production lines
she blooms, an out-and-out Stakhanovite.

And quota after quota she will bear
back to the waxy darkness of the hive
with its swarming, crawling touchy-feeliness,
the whole thing geared to keep a queen alive.

Isn’t she the perfect social animal?
No half-belief or existential doubt
impairs her absolute efficiency.
She is no drone, no licensed layabout.

Ants are the same. No pause for second thoughts,
no reservations and no turning back,
but driven onward by a stubborn gene,
with common outcomes on a common track.

Those ardent, never-resting commonwealths –
insect Leviathans that wax and swell
without a whiff of teleology
beyond the filling of a honey-cell –

have blind compulsions that we cannot follow,
an etched imperative to do and die
for the common good, not knowing what it is;
self-sacrifice by sting, not knowing why.

– David Morphet 2004