Things Undone


The birds sense winter coming this morning.

Sparrows flutter, fight and search the eaves

for hiding places from the next season.

Blue jays, cardinals, chickadees, all anxiously feeding,

reminding me of things still left undone.




From the sandy hillside, this tricolored heron

walks the stone steps with more dignity

than our President, and surveys this world.

As it was in the beginning, now

my intercessions rise with his winged leaving.

From his gloved hand,

the falconer tries to train the goshawk.

This fierce raptor’s pale-eyed view of death

is graceful control and surrender. This duality

of taming the fierce and feral parts

of the bird, ourselves and the world.


British goshawk by Archibald Thorburn, 1915 (public domain)


Inspired by reading H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald – a book about much more than training a goshawk.

Hummingbird at the Fuchsia

You’re so much a New World bird!

Humming at audible high frequencies, your wings

allow you to hover, even fly backwards.

The highest metabolism of any homeothermic animal.

What Aztec warrior returned to my garden?


Huitzilopochtli, the principal Aztec in hummingbird headgear

Aztecs wore hummingbird talismans, sometimes made from parts of real hummingbirds, as emblems of energy and sexual power. Their sharp beaks were seen as instruments of weaponry, bloodletting, penetration, and intimacy. The Aztec god of war Huitzilopochtli is often depicted as a hummingbird. I find it odd, considering their delicacy, that it was believed that fallen warriors would return to earth as hummingbirds or butterflies.