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The Hummingbird Nest

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I bring you a hummingbird’s nest, woven
from seed-down, thistle head,

bound with lichen and spidersilk,
shaped by a mother who presses her breast

against the cup, uses her rump, chin,
the curve of her wing, who stomps

her claws on the base to check it’s
windproof under this leaf porch.

The male gone, she works alone,
hurrying back and forth thirty times

an hour, before the eggs come.
She lays them in a home small as a nutshell,

the rim turned in, the sides pliant
so they’ll stretch as the chicks grow.

Little mother, I’ve read your file
filled with letters to the mairie, begging

for a place where we could live together.
I know now how hard you fought the powers,

like a jeweled dart stabbing at their door,
before you fell prey to the jungle mantis.

Instead of flowers, I leave you this nest
on your grave, in case you make it

from your migration — only a wisp
of feathers, no flesh left on your bones.

Source: Poetry (September 2016)

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This poem originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Poetry magazine

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The Hummingbird Nest

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