KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 3: Spring 2015
Poem: 234 words

Unoiled Hinge

by Judy Jordan
Hummingbirds climb the ladders of tritoma
as Gaillardia, in their frilled fluted skirts, call
to the monarch and swallowtail. Stillness, pregnant with purpose,
on this sultry day, sun pressing the whorls
of its burned thumb against the stalled
heart of the land, purple coneflowers swollen
with seed, prickled milkweed pods like green boats
fattening in the sweltering air as they prepare their silk sails.
Spider eggs, frog spawn, wasp cells, and far off
in the west, bruise-blue clouds
billow in tall columns, the entire landscape a stylized set
for the coming season. Spits of wind,
the frantic hummers muscling through air
with a sound like an unoiled hinge, 
                                             a door scraping open.

Tails fish-fanned, they chest bump, dive, and clack
their long beaks at each other and still I don’t know
how to do something as simple as hold these moments
clutched in my hand. If I watch long enough
I can almost understand what will happen
when the part of me that is blood and bone
dissolves to mulch, to fecund soil,
the rich worm-tunneled decay on which we all feed.

If I watch long enough, storm pushing in,
hummingbirds chattering, square-tipped tulip poplar
leaves already plummeting to the flower beds,
how surely I will vanish into invisibility, fade
like the ruby-throat’s metallic glints in shade,
like the birds in their noisy, high-pitched burst into the woods.

—From the author’s third book, Hunger, which chronicles the two years she lived in a greenhouse; the manuscript is with LSU Press.

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