Words about Wings

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As a poet, I tend to write what I know best – which usually means that my themes are drawn from familiar experiences and settings. The world around me, or the people and other creatures who inhabit that world, lend me their voices sometimes. Today, I’ll share two of my poems about hummingbirds. At least, on one level they’re about hummingbirds. They’re taken from my third collection, Wingflash, published in 2011 by Pink Petticoat Press (see link below the poetry and photos). This is the time of ruby-throats and as I write, they zip and chitter through the rain beyond my window. I love their tenacity and boldness! One need not be massive, muscular and loud in order to leave a lasting imprint on our collective psyche. It is enough to delight the eye, yet remain quick and ephemeral, never present for longer than a season.

Photographing a Hummingbird

It is not enough to be ready – shutter speed set to overfast,
lens filled with sungleam. He mocks me – he is not the float
of a waterlily far from shore. He is a close-up stutter, one stray

spark from fire I have not ignited. He lights on a wire
above my head and I can smell the ash, drifting. When I anticipate
his flight path, he knows. Better to listen with my fingertip,

prick its skin with the sound of air dividing: pre-thunder
for a lesser being. A storm that never reaches me.
Wingflash over monarda! Long before his body shapes itself,

I open a hand that cannot hold him, forget the camera.
This prayer inhabits a bird, and he will never offer himself.
He was not created for my redemption.

At the crematorium, I stop outside the door, afraid to view
my father. I wish he had not died on his own, a fallen
straggler. It is not enough to be ready – he is one stray spark

from fire ignited and drowned. The sky can refuse him now.
But I wait for a wingflash, one image: the captivity of leaving.
Listen for air to divide around him as he shines.

Brenda Levy Tate (c) 2011, all rights reserved

 

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September Morning in the Garden

The last hummer has abandoned me now,
whirring her path behind the sea’s wrinkled
invitation sent on a southeast wind.
My bee balm slowly circles a black hole
at its centre. I sip café au lait,
brought from that same forest where hummingbirds
retreat to grow old. If the clouds are kind –
if no whirling horrors with human names
toss them aside – if nets fail to pull them
out of the air they trust. Small perfect things
jitter across the sharpened grassblades. Brass
chimes haunt the lake. My jadeite pendant swings,
spills its light. I am stretching – a skin drum.    
No prayers needed. Nothing to save me from.

Brenda Levy Tate (c) 2011, all rights reserved

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The Pink Petticoat Press

http://thepinkpetticoatpress.yolasite.com/

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