Hummingbird Bully by William Hathaway



It seems the rescued eagles

are now eating everyone elseís chicks,

just as that jeering mob of crows

said so from the git-go. I know a widow

who believes her husbandís soul

mustíve been embedded in a ruby-throat

that hovered in poignant suspension

before her screen door. So

whereís the birdís soul? I wondered

but didnít ask. Also stuck in there,

I guess, but as a willing or sullen host?

Embedded perhaps like the reporters

so honored to spit and smoke

alongside soldiers on their missions.


When Satan snugged into the snake,

I suppose the assumption was

snakes do without souls or other such

inner resources. There was the eagle

bedeviled by crows this morning

as he perched on a furthermost snag

over the cove waterfall, straight

as a sentry in his white and brown

puritan uniform. Stern as the icon

he has to be. Imperturbable

in the face of all that raucous hate.

Franklin called them lazy, but stealing

fish from osprey is no easy feat.


Turkey season came and went here,

and now only the female struts

languidly across our wildflower field

with eight fluffy chicks jittering

after her. Maybe three will make it.

Everyone hates us. Oderint

dum metuant? But when I held

the female hummingbirdís tiny corpse

betwixt thumb and forefinger

this morning, gored through her heart,

all iridescence fled, I admit

I was perplexed. Iíd thought it more

a game, that darting and treading air

against the sun. We, Iíd thought,

were the only ones who went that far. 





© 2005-2009 Per Contra: The International Journal of the Arts, Literature and Ideas


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William Hathaway