(2-22 April 1993) after Alice Cary

The hummingbird flits from blossoms of jasmine—doesn’t talk—can’t explain— everything in the shape of its wing, the quick against thin air, quietly hovering, silently sipping invisible nectars, ready to escape in three dimensions. In the shape of its wing is an exactness to purpose, the demands of a floral subsistence drawn out to the finest—and fiercest—proposition. The green sheen of its dark feathers is in not pigment, but structure— exceeding the fineness of light to play untrammelled among its protein caves and tresses. It flits like light among jasmine, caught in the color and scent of starry blossoms. But I stand in my smelly socks and press my oily nose against the window. In this big wooden house, I confound even my crude mammalian nature, sacrificing principle to convenience, self-redeaming only in absence of distraction, gaping at this impossible-to-fly novelty that lives on nothing but distillation of color. I don’t pretend I’m better than it— not more noble—not better suited—not more adaptable. No careful geometry or random fractal can approximate the utter fitness of color, form, weight, wit, strength, gentleness, balance, beauty, readiness, and quickness of this little bird— Nothing more true on pain of life.