Hummingbird

What with foresight and dancing,
gypsies would seem to pass easily
between worlds. The hummingbird too—

only a moth with a beak—
Have I ever heard it hum?

Yet it's everywhere welcome,
coaxed by red flowers, even sugar water,
for we are devious, in our desires.

And the dead, we embody them
for our own purposes. I can't talk
to a shadow, to an abstraction.

A sun worshiper, my brother,
always raising his face to it.
One touch and the body roar quieted.

Now, though I walk the length
of the park, he is not there.
He is nowhere under the sun.

I want the dead but I am with
the living. The tulips raise up their hands.
The lunch crowd swallows me.

More by Elaine Terranova

Mint

Already, we'd be driving past
those trees, that part of the forest.
Even briefly, it refreshed you.
It was like mint in August
though that sting would be gone
with summer. The ground
tarnishing first, and soon the leaves.
I thought then, men don't stop.
They want so much to get on.
What we said, incidental
yet hammered into the mind.
Talk like a magnet, so it draws you
together or away. We made a line
around that part of the forest,
the exact shape of our attention.
Even after, I remember
how it was taken up and moved
along with us, into the dim
living room. Each holding a glass,
ice colliding in water. A tiny
mirrored sun caught in the trees.
The same sadness that darkened
our features. Later, bed
without making love, without
the chance of a reprieve.

Shells

In the heat, in the high grass
their knees touched as they sat
crosslegged facing each other,
a lightness and a brittleness
in their bodies. They touched
like shells. How odd
 
that I should watch them say goodbye.
What did it have to do with me?

There was my own stillness
and the wasps and the tiny flies
for a long time taking stitches
in the surrounding air and

a comfort I felt, as the wind
tore through, to find the trees
miraculously regaining their balance.

The Anniversary

That night
   the comet could still be seen,
   wound in its wild mane.

Earlier, an egret
   had stopped by the stream
   to clean itself of something,
   red bill dipping
   again and again
   into the white feathers.

And before that,
   walking along,
   we became aware
   of a tiny, fragile skeleton
   at the side of the road,
   paws drawn up
   over its empty chest.