Visitation, by Margaret Holley
One glimpse of its ruby throat
among the verbenas and suddenly
July is more than dogs days and thunder.
“It’s a hummingbird,” Chris
whispers. “50 wing beats a second,
1,000 heartbeats a minute. Life in the fast lane.”
Quickly it darts from one bloom
to the next. “It’s a male,” Chris continues,
“with his bright red bib. They winter in Mexico.
And they’re great pollinators.”
It’s a visitation, I think, this gray-green
tinsel of a bird, exotic, tropical, other-worldly.
All July I’ve been re-reading
Virginia Woolf.“What have I done
with my life?” Mrs. Ramsey wonders silently
at the dinner table among
her six children, while Lily Briscoe,
brush in hand, ponders her painting, the sea,
the lighthouse, her life.
And I wake from that dream
in the huge green heat of the garden to see
this little hummer,
who has flown here over the gray
waters of the Gulf and halfway up the continent,
dip his beak like a straw
into the flower’s center to drink
the nectar. He hovers and sips again and is gone,
leaving the verbenas,
each tiny cup he has drained,
tingling, the pollen grains already swelling.
Margaret Holley lives in Wilmington, Delaware, where she serves as a docent at Winterthur Museum and Gardens. Her fifth book of poems, Walking Through the Horizon, was published by the University of Arkansas Press.
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