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

falling feather?


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.