poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, August 21, 2017.
About this Poem 

“Inhabiting both earth and sky, birds serve, in many traditions, as emissaries from the afterlife, as they do in this poem. Here, I sought to combine the science of hummingbird metabolism, the cultural history of hummingbird mythology, and the personal history I associate with the bird. The words ‘visit,’ ‘resurrection’ and ‘hover’ contribute to the ‘otherworldly’ feeling hummingbirds generate in many who observe them.”
—Robin Becker

Hummingbird

I love the whir of the creature come
to visit the pink
flowers in the hanging basket as she does

most August mornings, hours away
from starvation to store
enough energy to survive overnight.

The Aztecs saw the refraction
of incident light on wings
as resurrection of fallen warriors.

In autumn, when daylight decreases
they double their body weight to survive
the flight across the Gulf of Mexico.

On next-to-nothing my mother
flew for 85 years; after her death
she hovered, a bird of bones and air.

Copyright © 2017 by Robin Becker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 21, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Robin Becker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 21, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Robin Becker

Robin Becker

Robin Becker was born in 1951 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She earned a

by this poet

poem

Give me, again, the fairy tale grotto
with the portico-vaulting overhead.
Let me walk beneath the canted columns
of Gaudí’s rookery, spiral
along his crenelated Jerusalem
of broken tiles, crazy shields.
Yes, it’s hot as hell and full
of tourists at the double helix,
but the

poem
Worry stole the kayaks and soured the milk.
Now, it’s jellyfish for the rest of the summer
and the ozone layer full of holes.
Worry beats me to the phone.
Worry beats me to the kitchen,
and all the food is sorry. Worry calcifies
my ears against music; it stoppers my nose
against barbecue. All films end badly.
poem
Once in a cradle in Norway folded
like Odin's eight-legged horse Sleipnir
as a ship in full sail transported the dead to Valhalla

Once on a mountain in Taos after making love
in my thirties the decade of turquoise and silver

After your brother walked into the Atlantic
to scatter your mothers ashes his khakis