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First Place, Poetry, Open to the public : Hummingbird

Barbara Hood

We leave while your chest is still rising, to watch

for signs in the canyon of the journey you are taking alone,

without us, beyond our touch at your bedside, beyond the

windows of your flowered room.

The river carves its course through desert rock,

the kind that you, from green country, found haunting.

But it was here that we last came with you,

and here you may be waiting.

High above us, water falls in pounding roars,

each ripple, each wave, appearing only to disappear,

churning mists that soothe our burning eyes and

haze the pain of memory.

You once said “time marches on” to comfort us,

but in this place of endless time we see only the

blur of moving water, the mystery of quiet stone.

Until the moist air flickers:

A glimmer, green and golden, follows the river’s edge

and hovers close, a tiny whisper echos up the walls, and we

hear the requiem we have come for: your last breath,

in the wings of a hummingbird.


By Barbara Hood