I learned to speak with the hummingbirds.

They crowded into my days, small and plentiful, chirping

from the garden trellis, motoring to and from the echeveria

flowers. I learned their language as you might any language:

by listening, copying, by pointing while they nodded and repeated

the words. They came whenever they could—they were busy,

barrelrolling through sunbeams, checking, checking on things.

Tiny mayors attending to their cities. We talked about

nicotania blossoms, how one holds the body apart

from what is being consumed. About azalea, bee balm, salvia.

We talked about redwoods and the traffic and cats.

I told them how I’d been thinking lately of Ireland and Tuscany

and they understood completely. Foxglove and lavender, they agreed.

We often mentioned wings and windows, debated the ideal length

of the tongue. Eventually I abandoned meals, messages that piled

unread, spent every minute in the garden hanging on their counsel—

iridescent monks practicing vows of constant motion.

All summer long they hummed, scrawling their signature

onto wide sky, nectar-driven teachers of song.