Same old, same old, I almost said,
slightly jaded at taking in stunning beauty
as the thing, iridescent, to my right
on the garden's edge, held back and hovered,
sampling red nectar from nearby hanging baskets.
Still, I felt stirred, turning the hose on
—to marvel again at its sheen of color,
its thrumming wing buzz, and its other,
less-noticed beauty: arrowed travel from X to Y,
and up and down rises, precision 90 degree angles.
Pleasant minutes into my dousing the roots
of the shrub rose, the hummer darted
toward and away from my target. So, I thought,
he wants the rosebud food. Well then, it's his.
Wrong guess. When I pointed the hose elsewhere
he stayed where he was, at the hanging baskets.
Baffled, I shrugged and changed the pistol's setting,
STREAM to SPRAY, making the rose's foliage my focus.
Zip zip, back came the bird. And stayed, this time
a foot from my spraying rainfall. Then off he sped
but came right back, closer to the water.
Dumbly, I started to see, to take certain cues—
grasp that the hummer wanted no food but, rather,
a delicate bathing
which I could provide, the hose adjusted again,
this time from SPRAY to MIST.
Light refracted, rainbowed, in evening light
on a hummingbird's gossamer wings is something
to see, I can tell you, but more than that,
this bird in a cooling mist knows how to
dip, arc, spiral, bounce,
waltz around, wink its wing tips,
swoop, swoon, settle in,
lie back, laze, and loll around easy, friend,
as though it were born to do that.
You might also imagine a well-cued human
in that setting could think a hand-held device
might be a kind of baton for directing,
and there was some truth to that.
My hand moving, I found I could tease the
hummer to ballet leaps or a sideways boogie.
My being in charge, though—
what nonsense that was.
I was only a beholder, the one being schooled,
keeping steady, mostly, gratefully awed.
© by Richard Swanson.
Used with the author’s permission.