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Lesson Learned
Richard Swanson


Same old, same old, I almost said,
slightly jaded at taking in stunning beauty
as the thing, iridescent, to my right
on the garden's edge, held back and hovered,
sampling red nectar from nearby hanging baskets.

Still, I felt stirred, turning the hose on
to marvel again at its sheen of color,
its thrumming wing buzz, and its other,
less-noticed beauty: arrowed travel from X to Y,
and up and down rises, precision 90 degree angles.

Pleasant minutes into my dousing the roots
of the shrub rose, the hummer darted
toward and away from my target. So, I thought,
he wants the rosebud food. Well then, it's his.

Wrong guess. When I pointed the hose elsewhere
he stayed where he was, at the hanging baskets.

Baffled, I shrugged and changed the pistol's setting,
STREAM to SPRAY, making the rose's foliage my focus.

Zip zip, back came the bird. And stayed, this time
a foot from my spraying rainfall. Then off he sped
but came right back, closer to the water.

Dumbly, I started to see, to take certain cues,
grasp that the hummer wanted no food but, rather,
a delicate bathing
which I could provide, the hose adjusted again,
this time from SPRAY to MIST.

Light refracted, rainbowed, in evening light
on a hummingbird's gossamer wings is something
to see, I can tell you, but more than that,
this bird in a cooling mist knows how to
dip, arc, spiral, bounce,
waltz around, wink its wing tips,
swoop, swoon, settle in,
lie back, laze, and loll around easy, friend,
as though it were born to do that.

You might also imagine a well-cued human
in that setting could think a hand-held device
might be a kind of baton for directing,
and there was some truth to that.
My hand moving, I found I could tease the
hummer to ballet leaps or a sideways boogie.

My being in charge, though?
what nonsense that was.
I was only a beholder, the one being schooled,
keeping steady, mostly, gratefully awed.


© by Richard Swanson.
Used with the author’s permission.





Richard Swanson (1940 - 2023) taught college English and Creative Writing for 33 years. A devoted supporter of libraries and poetry, he was the author of two novels and several poetry collections. A resident of Madison, Wisconsin, Richard enjoyed cooking, fishing, and woodworking. He was well-known for his sense of humor, which was often reflected in his writing.

     Men in the Nude in Socks     Paparazzi Moments     Not Quite Eden    


Post New Comment:
Outstanding, in observation of the bird's plea, in writing. Thanks Richard.
Posted 05/30/2016 11:52 AM
How beautiful ~ thank you for sharing the wonder... Judy
Posted 05/29/2016 04:41 PM
What a great experience. Awed just thinking about it. Will try it when we get home.
Posted 05/29/2016 12:47 PM
I am awaiting the arrival of the first humming bird this spring.
Posted 05/29/2016 08:27 AM
Feeling...gratefully awed, too. Majestically humbling! Thanks,Richard.
Posted 05/29/2016 08:13 AM
Larry Schug:
A wonderful poem of being alive in this world, though a bit wordy in my humble and for what it's worth opinion.
Posted 05/29/2016 08:09 AM
such lovely images! thanks, Richard..
Posted 05/29/2016 07:55 AM
I have been there too, Richard - an ethereal experience. Aren't we lucky to be in this world?
Posted 05/29/2016 07:55 AM
Thank you for sharing these beautiful moments of your conversation with and observation of this tiny wonder. Marilyn Windau
Posted 05/29/2016 07:31 AM
A beautiful start to our day, Richard.
Posted 05/29/2016 06:55 AM
Janet Leahy:
You captured the moment and brought it to us so well with "refracted rainbowed evening light." Lovely, thanks Richard.
Posted 05/29/2016 06:46 AM
From a ballet to a boogie in an arc of water...does it get any better than that? Thanks, Richard, for a lovely visual to start the day!
Posted 05/29/2016 06:05 AM
Maryann Hurtt:
Well, Richard, you certainly found finer things that morning. Thanks for sharing.
Posted 05/29/2016 05:25 AM
A delightful poem/story - I really enjoyed it.
Posted 05/29/2016 04:25 AM
The most beautiful thing I've read in a long while. What a treat with my morning coffee and what an experience for the poet. He certainly found the words to share it with us.
Posted 05/29/2016 04:23 AM

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