I was that hummingbird
who flew into your kitchen, my body
metallic with desire
because the hands that poured
red syrup into glass
would be stronger, I knew, than sugar itself,
sweeter to flutter under,
better to beat my heart beneath.
Your wife didn’t see you
toss a tea towel—Home Sweet Home—over me
and in the owl dark, finer than night,
I stilled for your palm, with only cloth between us.
You returned me to the sky
though I wanted to fall, and later
I was that small brown finch
who crushed quills coming through
a crack in the cabin
where a bare mattress lay on the floor.
I teased the hunting dogs, sang
a glissando, hit windows, turned
air into wind against skin
until, stirred by violent, swift, harmonic love,
you woke for me, divorced.
You knocked out a screen
and the morning breathed me
back into blue
but what loneliness!—
taking flight only in the atmosphere of you
so that night I was an osprey
who watched from my branch,
opening a pink trout
while you and also I walked along a river:
our first date.
My skirt rose and fell, passerine, just like the wings
you’d seen at dawn, a gesture of Home
and under the willow you asked
“May I kiss?”
High above, I finished my fish,
quiet with the pleasure of having entered
your world, where in the mountains
around your unfurnished house
I was that speckled grouse
who stood in wild geranium and grass
while you and I hiked up the path.
I hurried through clover
to cover my pale cream clutch
as also I knelt in buttercup
to show you the white spider on white yarrow,
how they matched, merged, blurred into one
as we did in the deerbed at the foot of the fir,
Home, in the sun.
“I recognize you,” you said,
tapping your chest
fast as a hummingbird’s heart
before its allotment of pulses
is spent, and I am that hummingbird
who circles us
while all colors milk the fleeting light
to tint each plank of a porch
where we sit in silence like people long wed
though as man and woman we have recently met.
Twice, I orbit the scene,
because an orbit is a measure of time
and a circle is two decades in hummingbird years
and two circles, especially in gold, the magpies say,
make a marriage. I send a beam
from my breast to the gods
asking that it be you who will bury me,
wrapped in a square of cloth.