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  • Trochilida Folds Her Wings

    I was a twelve-year-old boy, moving in and out of adult conversations in the backyard of a pen-and-ink artist of Flagstaff, the evening’s colors fixed upon the milky sky like the smile of a young mother. Two decades gone, now, and I am still bemused. What life did my parents lead before children that brought them into the camaraderie of this patchoulied, silver-haired man who, as best I can tell, came tumbling out of a landslide in the San Francisco peaks, rolling at first like a boulder, but eventually, planting a foot and swinging another leg down in pace with the earth spilling all around him, walked out of the mountains just north of the city, and filled a studio with paperboard panels covered in inky aspen trees.

    “Just like this,” he says to me, and he holds his hand up to the hummingbird feeder, his index finger extended just beneath one of the spouts. “You have to stand completely still for a long time—five or ten minutes,” and that is all the instruction I need. He leaves and sits down again with my parents to continue their conversation.

    Nothing about the next moments that pass is empty. Every rise in my chest is measured and counterbalanced to keep my finger still. Every other impulse suppressed with the childish focus of intentionality which all humans learn first in play and only later come to associate with work. In this labor, while I am striving to be still, a tiny body, a hummingbird, zooms to a spout on the opposite side of the feeder, drinks, and leaves as quickly. Sometimes two at a time now, more tiny bodies come and go and still I work with all of mine to do nothing.

    I wonder if it will ever happen. I wonder this in whatever small mental space I have left open for tasks like wondering, while all the rest of my mind has descended into my chest, shoulders, legs. My mind flows down my arm, and the seat of my being is the first knuckle of my right index finger. Still, somewhere behind my eyes, I wonder. I realize that I will wait as long as it takes. I will outlast the milky mother-sky, and I will put the sun to bed, faithful in my vocation.

    And in that moment, a tiny bird puts its feet on my finger, and wings that beat the air are still like I am still. It drinks. I am filled. Two decades gone, now, and I am filled.

    By · October 6, 2014 · contemplation, hope · [Print]

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