This morning, a hummingbird knocked itself
— 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.
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