a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
I got sight of a hummingbird
caught in a net. As it struggled,
I was reminded of my grandmother
years ago when I asked for the family history. Iridescent
in her endevor to get out the words, I was recounted stories
no one can verify. Stories with the same names
change depending on what day I ask. I notice a sudden collapse
of stories. Homes after earthquakes and after wars. And afterword, spoke of a love
needing to be rebuilt. She’s reaching out,
even now, I’m entangled in the truth.
The conversation translates into night and all our fluttered history
tips into torpor. My grandmother finishes
her tea before her deep sleep.
My family lineage traced back through dreams.
In the cloud forest surrounding us, the sleeping
whistle of hummingbirds can be heard.
Legend has it these are nightmares. War cries
from ages past. Huitzilopchtli himself. Aztec birdgod
of sun and war and all things human; sacrifice.
From a single feather, arose civilization. And from that same feather,
came the death of my grandmother. All offerings
to prevent that infinite night. An eternal torpor.
Warriors and child-birthing women who’ve died turned to hummingbirds.
For family history and myth, I turn to hummingbird.
Tell me grandmother, is there anything about us that doesn’t dream of distant lands, of soaring away,
Or are we just the perpetual
So I learn to dream within dreams of this left-handed hummingbird.
The sun is always chasing the moon. A fledgling, I falter
against time, because time and time again I look to the stars
when descendants fight against
each other in inner cities, while still raging war
within ourselves. I find that I’m so far
from my grandmother’s truth and her grave. So where then,
Does our eternal light live?
But you don’t fool me, abuela. This avian hibernation
is our flyway from death. By the morning
you’ll be out again, spilling your infinite
stories into flowering grandchildren and all those still around to listen.
Until we too, take up flight.
Jonathan Amezquita graduated from Macalester College in 2018 (Biology Major/English Minor). He then enrolled in a post-baccalaureate research program at the University of California, Davis. He has since joined the graduate research program at Scripps Research Institute in Florida where he is working towards a PhD in Neuroscience.