Poetry Daily: http://www.poems.com/

Hummingbird Sleep


A hummingbird sleeps among the wonders.
Close to dark, he settles on a roosting limb
and lowers his body temperature
to within a few degrees of the air's own.

As the bird descends into torpor,
he assumes his heroic sleep posture,
head back, tilted beak pointing to the sky,
angling steep, Quixotic, Crimean.

This noctivation, the ornithologist word for it,
is very like what bears do through the winter.
Hummingbirds live the deep drop every night.
You can yell in his face and shake the branch.

Nothing. Gone. Where? What does he dream of?
He dreams he is the great air itself, the substance
he swims in every day, and the rising light
coming back to be his astonishing body.


Coleman Barks

Hummingbird Sleep: Poems, 2009-2011
The University of Georgia Press


To view this poem online, visit the Poetry Daily archive at http://www.poems.com/archive.php
View a large-print version of this poem