Upon Freeing the Ruby-throated Hummingbird Beak-Stuck in a Screen Door

211 total words    

1 minutes of reading

There’s cresting Quandary Peak, oh mountain

of the human condition. There’s Mt. of the Holy Cross

roped in rain and fog so thick we missed

the glacial cross Longfellow’s sonnet made famous

for a slim generation’s attention span. There’s

summiting Mt. Elbert when Deb was pregnant,

our daughter earning her first peak in utero,

or was it months before when part of us crossed


over to her? Those times I rose above

some other worldly body. I stood at the edge,

still do, my breath fast and shallow,

nose pressed against the thin scrim

that gives a little and thus gives nothing,

oh scrim between the known and not,

oh lousy metaphor for death –

this a problem and the beauty we inhabit,

or do I mean embody?


Look, he hung there, my brother, beak-stuck

and sun-stroked, begging one more chance,

anthem of those who sigh Oh way too often.

He’d nearly crossed over but to what?

Plucked free, he feasted on sugar water,

iridescent electric trembling, pilgrim and homeboy.

And what of his crested moments?

There’s trumpet flower till its red throat wilts silent.

There’s monkshood before it folds to seeds’ reprieve —–

how these things we love add up, oh tweedle dee,

as they count down.

  • Kevin Stein

    Poet and critic Kevin Stein was named Illinois Poet Laureate in 2003 and served in that position for many years. A professor of English and the director of the creative writing program at Bradley University, Stein is known for the humor and insight of his poems, and the lucidity of his prose.

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