Alan Vernon, "Female Costa's Hummingbird," 2011
Eye to eye, she tells me wring more sweetness from the sun, bring it now. She cannot wait. Outrunning her shadow costs her; at night, she won’t sleep, she’ll step into a future death just a little, her torpor a ruse to outwit the killing cold. As I make fresh nectar, I tell her a story—the ancestral brothers, kin to the god of war, skinned for the glory of kings. She has no truck with that, imagines a new home to nest in—a royal beating heart, exsanguinated, extirpated by the same beak whose feather-tongue kisses the red dahlia, the sunflower.