• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 05

Hummingbirds on the Hudson

In 1851, Putman published Rural Hours by a Lady
and the Hudson River Railroad pulled ninety tons
of iron and steam from New York City to Poughkeepsie.

Winged, needle-beaked, the hummingbird fades
in water color stains, reds turned rusty, greens dull.

It flutters on the wafting floral bouquet,
a fragrant seduction of blooms in a garden.

The tiny flyer sucks on honey-suckle goblets
overflowing with the wine of summer nectar.

Light as light itself, heart tripping in fairy tap time
a lady’s thoughts hummingbird their way over an emerald
meadow or slip inside a secret garden

beneath a cottage’s watchful eye, skim along an abandoned plot
dotted with wild abandon by thistles, scrub grass,
a thousand shades of salvia and vagrant bee balm.

The smallest of birds whisks silken on whispered
sighs, ferried by a lover’s breath, a lady’s smile.

Red-throated, it hovers, fragile, the hummingbird
in the path of a rumbling iron beast
belching flames and smoke. Metal tracks shriek and spark
igniting the sky, burning its gossamer wings.


Hummingbirds on the Hudson

In long flowing letters, a lady flits among words,
captures the delicate aerobatics of iridescent wings
in rhyme and story, a tale of airy flights embossed
on folded, stitched sheets, a lady lost in honeysuckle.

In the distance, the rumble, hiss, and screech of metal
and the acrid smell of steam.