My friend dying
on the mountain emailed
talk of hummingbirds
some of the last sweet
creatures she will see.
Wrote me last week not to worry:
“Only continuing my years’ long
In this season of our confinement
she sits with my friend her husband
on their porch and tears fall
with no more shame than the rain
spattering the trees.
She has planned it all with a kind of hope
that something like this would come along
some way to share it alone with him
no visitors to spruce up for, no pies
to nibble and throw out, no long sad looks
from those of us still breathing without gasps.
Her head cocks listening
at the flit, squinting eyes marvel
at the sliver tongue sipping
from the livid blossom’s drip.
All the thousand things that persist
as he cups her fuzzy head in one hand
to plump her pillow and she wonders
if she’s smiled in thanks but leaves it
over to trust because after all
that is what we have left
in the darkness in the naked world
when at last we surrender to sleep
and the next thing after that.
She might be awake when hovering
for what seems like a pause
in time the little hummingbird
she could swear it
takes her measure
nods its glistening head
deftly turns its needled beak
like a pointer on a compass
and zooms away as if to say
the truly interesting
the nectar you seek
it’s over here come see.