“Hummingbird” by Ali Sohail

Ali Sohail


It’s congenital
                we say
                to the universe
We were                born
                                with a fluttering heart
a            hairline fracture
the surgeons couldn’t        place
The Antarctic’s                    a fractal split
                its own weight
Larsen C’s cracked        deep enough
to trace                through the window
of a space shuttle
                                wide enough        we’ve lost
the winds to stitch it back
Then the last 12 miles of glacier
pinning it
to the continent            tore
Like a lost        sailor
                                it gave itself        to the sea
A boulder cast into a pond
Nameless boy
                                swim faster
The lifeguard’s asleep                on the tower
and the helicopters
                have all been swallowed
by waves            The children        build castles
over the bodies of sharks        the sun
has hardened their eyes                        to gold
don’t breathe                                            yet        now
thrash your hands
against            coralline and limestone
quell    your    imploding                                        lungs
you        are                alone and the
water’s surface
                            is farther away than    you
Nameless                            boy                    don’t panic
a                                            hummingbird
flying north                                hovers steady
over the water’s            surface
dipping its            beak into the                        salt
it                siphons it up                like sourwood                nectar.

Poets Respond
May 7, 2017

[download audio]


Ali Sohail: “This poem is in response to the recent discovery of a thousand-foot wide fissure in the Antarctic ice-shelf Larsen C. A portion of it is expected to break away with significant ecological impact. There are few things that affect us all on a global scale, and climate change is one of them. As an individual, I feel as powerless as a child standing on a shoreline, watching an approaching wave about to crash and break at my feet. I still hold to optimism, however, and have tried to inject a redemptive spirit in my work.”

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