I love the whir of the creature come
to visit the pink
flowers in the hanging basket as she does
most August mornings, hours away
from starvation to store
enough energy to survive overnight.
The Aztecs saw the refraction
of incident light on wings
as resurrection of fallen warriors.
In autumn, when daylight decreases
they double their body weight to survive
the flight across the Gulf of Mexico.
On next-to-nothing my mother
flew for 85 years; after her death
she hovered, a bird of bones and air.
Copyright © 2017 by Robin Becker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 21, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“Inhabiting both earth and sky, birds serve, in many traditions, as emissaries from the afterlife, as they do in this poem. Here, I sought to combine the science of hummingbird metabolism, the cultural history of hummingbird mythology, and the personal history I associate with the bird. The words ‘visit,’ ‘resurrection’ and ‘hover’ contribute to the ‘otherworldly’ feeling hummingbirds generate in many who observe them.”
Robin Becker was born in 1951 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Date Published: 2017-08-21
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/hummingbird-0