Not a Black-Chinned or
a Ruby-throated, not because
they are delicate but because
they are vicious, as sometimes
the small feel they must be.
Once I saw a hummingbird
stab a hawk that had perched
above its nectar patch. Poor hawk.
But not a raptor either. To be feared
as a predator, rapacious. A sham
threat tricked to die with poison
cloaked in dead fleece, when all
I’d want was to catch a thermal
and spiral away to a far-off ridge.
What about a shorebird? Living the life
beachside. But how exhausting – advance
retreat, advance, retreat, fighting the tides
for crab spawn, dodging fish line
and aired down tires. A losing battle,
wwwwwthe census shows.
wwwwwwwwwwI don’t want to want
to hurt anyone, but neither do I want
to be hurt. Who is it safe to be? A Monk
Parakeet? An almost “good immigrant”
foraging in carparks with the phantom
taste of tala drupes haunting its tongue?
A White-winged Dove, whose determined
expansion northward has earned it a hunted
season? Perhaps a Black Vulture. I’d have
safety in numbers, roosting on radio towers.
Our shit and vomit raining down on your
buildings and cars, your whatever. Yes
I’d make a mess, but you’d still need me
to clean up after yours.
Leslie Morris has worked as a speech/language therapist in the Austin public schools and as an anthropologist in Indonesia. Her work has appeared in Borderlands, the Texas Observer, Hayden’s Ferry Review and other publications.
featured photo by James A. Giroux