Parable of the Hummingbird
Christopher Martin

Dead cars, stripped for parts, rest on cinder blocks
hidden by weeds where rusted bikes and plastic toys
lie like bones amid rubble heaps, burn piles, cast-off
electronics, tires, shoes, decaying shirts, a cracked coffee pot
brimming with rainwater, its glass green with algal bloom.
A blue tarp hangs from the front porch, flaps in wind,
reveals holes in a shredded screen, and a woman
waving as I pass, two children in diapers at her feet.
A chained gray dog awakens from dust at the mouth
of its igloo-shaped house, grunts but does not rise
as I wave back, walking home. Though strangers,
we share this place’s burdens: the manufactured fear
for the authentic, the condescension for the simple
splendor of a post, made from a fallen branch, sunk
in red clay beside scrap metal, holding a feeder filled
with sugar water that a hummingbird sips, gray-green
gemstone, its heart a fire churning a thousand beats a minute,
adorning this yard, arrayed as no suburban standard could be.

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