Hummingbird Tantra

By CORRIE WILLIAMSON

 

 

Everybody wants to let go, but how do you let go if you
        don’t hold things?

               —Daniel Odier, Tantric Quest

 

Red draws their tiny eye, and every hummingbird
feeder you can buy blooms a plastic, stoic
ruby, effigy of flower, tadasana of red. Already
they have eaten me out of sugar, but forgetful today
I’ve left the sliding porch door wide, and on my couch
a cheery wool blanket, paintbrush red. I hear
the ruckus first, think, bee, think, rattler, come rushing
and find that small bright bird thrashing and
vrrrhing over the sofa, dashing itself on the western
pane, wings a frenzied blur. A dull, haptic terror
takes me: how can I catch it without harm to one
or both? That fierce little beak with which it
streaks after its fellow nectar-seekers? How will I not
rasp the lime-dark shine from its wings, like a moth,
with my hands made for grasping human things?
As I pull on my thick gardening gloves, somehow
it seems to still, lets me take it lightly between
thumb and index. What a pose: Woman Pinching
Hummingbird, no flex, no stretch, a great suspension,
a less than saintly clutching. Two billion heart
beats a life, they say, for bird and man, and if that’s
truly the plan, with this one’s scared heart fluttering
a thousand a minute, what life is already guttering
in my petit grip. Without rushing, mind above
the fear of slip, I pass through the porch door,
my hand falling and then rising to implore the bird
to go, and so it does, rippling down to the apple
grove like a petal in a rapid, zipping me to the
moment as I stand gasping, gasping for air. Woman
Letting Go. The next day, I drive two slow hours
to town, buy a pound of sugar to feed this incandescent
timebomb, short-lived, minute, voracious god.         

 

Corrie Williamson is the author of the poetry collections The River Where You Forgot My Name, a finalist for the 2019 Montana Book Award, and Sweet Husk. She was the 2020 PEN Northwest / Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency fellow, and her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Kenyon Review, Copper Nickel, Ecotone, Pleiades, and The Southern Review. She lives in Lewistown, Montana.

[Purchase Issue 23 here.]

Hummingbird Tantra

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