Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Michael Simms: Consider the Hummingbird

Consider the hummingbird
How like the mind it is
Flitting
 
Bee balm to daylily
1200 heartbeats per minute
200 wingbeats per second
 
In a universe 12 billion 
Years old
In pursuit of love
 
The hummingbird can dive
60 miles per hour
In the courtship 
 
Dance 
250 breaths per minute
Forward backward
 
Its red throat
Is not pigment in the feathers
But a refraction
 
Of light like the shimmering
Of intelligence
We see
 
Everywhere in the garden
 
--
 
And the child (this would
Be me) at naptime
In kindergarten
 
Lying on a mat on the floor
In the darkened room
50 other kids
 
Miss Verlaine standing
high heels right next 
to my head
 
Face up I silently slid my mat
Toward her feet until 
My head
 
Was exactly between her high heels
And I looked up her
Nyloned
 
Legs looking up up up into
Darkness between 
her legs
 
Then slid my mat back
And pretended 
To sleep
 
But little Alice Stuyvesant
Saw me and all afternoon 
She looked 
 
At me and I didn’t know
Whether she would tell
The teacher 
 
But I didn’t care because I had looked 
Into the darkness and 
Survived
 
--
 
And looking up into the night sky
Is like that 
The mystery is  
 
You can’t see much 
But you imagine
Everything
 
Even God If you want to call it that
This intelligence, this 
Cunt
 
This darkness we live inside and is 
Everywhere even
Here
 
In the garden where the hummingbird
Moves from daylily
To bee balm
 
Its small feet tucked behind
Its muscled chest with more than
250 breaths
 
Per minute its wings beating 200 flaps
Per second its heart
The size 
 
Of a peanut squeezing out 1200 beats
Per minute and how
Much faster
 
Is the mind with neurons sending electrons
Across 30 trillion
Synapses
 
Every second and how much faster
Than the mind is the mind of
The universe
 
Which as night comes we see
The stars and the stuff
Between 
 
The stars
The living tissue
Of reality
 
That gives us this
Hummingbird
 
The whirring of its wings and the glint
Of red at its throat
A deep
 
Mystery in the mere fact
We experience
The world
 
As whole and beautiful with
color and music
and joy
 
In the redness of red the taste
Of mint the stars
Popping
 
Out like musical notes 
 

Copyright 2020. From American Ash by Michael Simms (Ragged Sky, 2020).

Michael Simms is the founding editor of Vox Populi.

Ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris): Photo: Cornell Lab of Ornithology

5 comments on “Michael Simms: Consider the Hummingbird

  1. Rose Mary Boehm
    May 16, 2021

    But I didn’t care because I had looked
    Into the darkness and
    Survived

    Some of us did. Excellent poem.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Barbara Huntington
    May 16, 2021

    I’m 74 and want to be a poet when I grow up

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Allan
    May 16, 2021

    Magnificent. I will check out your works ASAP.

    I am 68, in failing health, beloved wife dying, and I wanna be a poet when I grow up!

    Liked by 2 people

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