Poem that begins with hummingbirds and ends with a mountain lion – Lisa Marie Oliver

On the day I realize you’re dying, hummingbirds
                            crowd the feeder outside, windows open, 

      cold spring sun filters the recovery room.
           Do you hear that, I say, as if hearing is as good

                          as seeing their spun wings blur and dart, 
               jadeite bodies bright as lake water, quick

                                   garnet gorgets. My hands brush the places 
                          on your body without incision or staples, 

                skin grafts stitched from elbow to shoulder,
       scarred lymph nodes. Your knee under my palm drums a heartbeat, 

       I imagine, desperate for heartbeats,
as hummingbirds take three-hundred breaths per minute.

                          On cold nights their hearts slow
                to fifty beats, a sleep-like state. You murmur, torporous,

                            of mountain lions in the evergreen slope,
              once a tree farm, how the female calling
       the male is a keening, my own, 
                             a low and relentless squall.

Nighttime, I walk barefoot under the kind of stars 
                that only appear in the countryside– burning, 
              cornucopian. A few hummingbirds feed 
        under the porchlight. Do you hear that?
                     from the trees: feline contralto wail, 
                                  eerie, in-season. Do you hear that.

Lisa Marie Oliver

Lisa Marie Oliver lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. Recent poems are featured or forthcoming in Stirring Literary, River Heron Review, and The Night Heron Barks.

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