Published on Academy of American Poets (

Green Flame

Slender as my ring finger, the female hummingbird crashed
into plate glass separating her and me 
before we could ask each other’s name. Green flame, 
she launched from a dead eucalyptus limb.  
Almost on impact, she was gone, her needle beak 
opening twice to speak the abrupt language of her going, 
taking in the day’s rising heat as I took
one more scalding breath, horrified by death’s velocity. 
Too weak from chemo not to cry 
for the passage of her emerald shine,
I lifted her weightlessness into my palm. 
Mourning doves moaned, who, who, 
oh who while her wings closed against the tiny body 
sky would quick forget as soon as it would forget mine


Copyright © 2020 by Pamela Uschuk. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 15, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I wrote ‘Green Flame’ from notes I made while I was undergoing chemotherapy for ovarian cancer. When a hummingbird flew into our dining room window, I heard the small thunk and saw her lying on her side on the brick sill. I rushed out to find her still alive, but she died, a living jewel, in the palm of my hand. I could not save her. Watching the vibrant awareness leave her eyes, I realized her life, her suffering and death were just as crucial and important as mine.”
Pamela Uschuk


Pamela Uschuk

Pamela Uschuk’s book, Refugee, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press. She is an editor for Cutthroat, A Journal of the Arts and teaches writing workshops at University of Arizona’s Poetry Center.

Date Published: 2020-04-15

Source URL: