This morning, a hummingbird knocked itself

Poetry / Jane Wong

into my window and I felt the thud in my ribs,
sudden and warm like cracking the caramel of

crème brule. I ran to it, pleaded to no particular
god or star: get up. It lay on its side, its small

body stunned and heaving, metallic in the sun.
I worried it was hot and so I draped my hair over

it, a shadow. Its left eye milked over, a thin veil,
a plastic jug. Get up. I did not want to feel so

responsible. My mother at twenty-five, bandaging
my burnt elbows. Ants began crawling over its wings,

testing for death, meat. I hated them more than
I’ve hated most things. I want to kill you, I told

the ants, but then the bird’s beak hung open,
a lever in need of pulling. It made no noise and

I thought of its organs, ticking and trumpeting—
an engine trying to start in a snowy, Iowa mound.

How could I hold its heart between my fingers,
a strawberry too red to eat? It was awful to hear

nothing. When I turned away, desperate for help,
it disappeared completely. I touched the ground

where it once was. A feather once. A hearse. I felt
ashamed for believing in its death. How do we know

if, knocked over, we will wake and go on? How do
we let ants crawl over that which hurts? This is

about a bird and its nectar-quickening wings. About
scavengers, organs, the bewildered. This is a poem, Jon.

Jane Wong’s poems can be found in anthologies and journals such as Best American Poetry 2015, Best New Poets 2012, Pleiades, American Poetry Review, Third Coast, and others. A Kundiman fellow, she is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the U.S. Fulbright Program, the Fine Arts Work Center, Squaw Valley, and Bread Loaf. She is the author of the book Overpour (Action Books, 2016). Currently, she is an Assistant Professor at Western Washington University.