Rubythroat

So many have praised you, diminutive, feisty bird,
marvel of metabolism, American wonder,

Route of Evanescence: what can I add to legions of words
that, amassed and printed on thinnest leaf paper

in minuscule font, would be a tome
outweighing you Jupiter to atom?

Poets, wanderers, and scientists have tried to nail
your glitter, your speed, your improbable helicopter flight,

your epic trips spanning continents and gulfs; to capture you
on the page, resolve the mysteries of physics and biology

that make you possible. Little dazzler.
The fairy-garden crowd might croon over your nest—

a doll-sized cup, fashioned of lichen and lined
with seed-fluff, two eggs like Tic Tacs tucked inside—

if not for the needle bill, twice as long as your head,
that keeps them at bay. Is your attitude don’t-fuck-with-me

or simply myself, as Hopkins said? Whát I dó is me:
for that I came, no more, no less. These thoughts

drift through my mind like spider silk loose on the breeze…
moving on humming winglets through the air— Meanwhile

you alight and bow your head to drink. You lift it, fixing me
with that sable side-eye, then rise, tail paddling, treading air. The whir

suspends you at the flower’s mouth and keeps you sipping, a reminder
that even now, aloft in the maw of time, some things in this world are sweet.
that even now, aloft in the maw of time, some things in this world are sweet. Sweet.
that even now, aloft in the maw of time, some things in this world are sweet. Sweet.

Notes:

Emily Dickinson, “A Route of Evanescence, (1489)”
Gerard Manley Hopkins, “As Kingfishers Catch Fire”
John J. Audubon, Birds of America, Plate 47 text https://www.audubon.org/birds-of-america/ruby-throated-humming-bird

Hope Coulter

Hope Coulter

Hope Coulter directs the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programs in Literature and Language at Hendrix College. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including The Yale Review, Southwest Review, and Terrain, and her collection The Wheel of Light was published in 2015 as part of the New Poets Series of BrickHouse Books. Awards for her writing include the Laman Library Writers Fellowship, the Porter Prize for Literary Excellence, and four Pushcart nominations. She lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Hope Coulter

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Author: Hope Coulter

Hope Coulter directs the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programs in Literature and Language at Hendrix College. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including The Yale Review, Southwest Review, and Terrain, and her collection The Wheel of Light was published in 2015 as part of the New Poets Series of BrickHouse Books. Awards for her writing include the Laman Library Writers Fellowship, the Porter Prize for Literary Excellence, and four Pushcart nominations. She lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.