Some Questions for a Hummingbird

What is it like when you begin
to draw less nectar from fewer flowers
on each weaving course as the
zenith sags with the passing days?
Was this foreseen? Was this a part of the flitting
dialogue used to fill up the time
of each long day of the thousands
of kilometers flight just ahead of
the tropical rains, just in front of
the parching desert sun? Or was it a mild,
earthen betrayal? Cooling shoulders
at a party filled with friends
until eye contact was lost
and pistils and stamens
became close-guarded by corolla, still beautiful
behind closed glass doors. In either case
an assessment of stores needs be made. Either
studious with ledger and account numbers
or tactile in how your insides have swelled
with stored fat and begin to sensually rub
under feathers. In the dawn you wake slightly hungry now
but ready to face the sun and a distance one
billion times greater than that which separates
your beak from your tail. A flight over a
world studded with open blossoms and backed
by a tide of wind to sweep you to a
roost under the leaves of a catalpa. What I
want to know is if you can carry me there;
a mite in your feathers to that soft, warm place
so far away from this listing, autumnal world?
Away from this Byzantinnian life interwoven
with fog, sand, and honey suckle. Could you take me along?
If you did, how would I ever get back?

The Fallacy of the Atomic Clock

Steadily unfolding a
Swan takes forever.
But that time is not quantum
Or atomic.
You can’t divide it into even segments
Like slices of bread or teaspoons of vanilla.
Time jerks to a stop then lurches forward;
As if everything were connected with rubber bands
And pulled from the front by a distracted child.
Yet, after years of mastery, a crisp white square
Of paper can be folded into a bird.
The steady unfolding takes forever.
The steady unfolding of an origami
Swan takes no time at all.


You think you’ve put it all
Together — calcified the walls
And filled the amniotic with
Fats, cholesterol, and albumen;
Enough structure to initiate
And sustain life
If only for a little while.
And so you go on
You breathe and walk and laugh
You watch chimney swallows
Explode from a church’s stack,
Rapture in the evening before
Slipping back down all at once
In silence before the rising full moon.

Some time later you find
Yourself lying in a soft bed
Beneath a clear city sky
In a yard between a fence
And a parking lot
The air is cold
But the down and your breaths
Keep you warm, and just then
A thin rift cracks through
Banding the yellow with the white
Into permanent, ecstatic deformation