The Last Hummingbird of Summer

reveals itself in retrospect. Unlike the first,
whose March arrival bade you gasp, hands clasped,
like a child actor instructed to show joy, when the last
departs for points south, there’s no telling,
and no tell. Well, so what? You know their cycle.
In August, they swarm the feeder, all swagger,
greedy tussle for sugar water. Suddenly,
September. Chill tickles your ankles. You reach
for long sleeves and you fret. They’ve left? Not yet.
Ear cocked for the symphony’s shrinking strings.
Then comes a day without a ruby flash. Next day,
they’re back. Next day, there’s one. Then none.
Or maybe one? From porches, pumpkins grin.
Your last had left, and left you uninformed.

Kinda? Sorta? Can I say it?—like menstrual blood,
again, between your legs. Your last, perhaps,
or next-to-last, your no-longer-very-monthly
monthly. So unlike your first crimson, at twelve,
its “Yes-You-Are-There-God” annunciation.
Well, so what? You know the cycle. Your body’s
eggy miracle, unneeded now for years.
And you hate waste. Why fill and dump
and fill again the undrunk sugar water?
Enough. Let’s progress to whatever season’s next.
But still, a farewell ritual wouldn’t be amiss.
The last hummingbird of summer, zinging
from the feeder—to others, a smooth departure—
to you, alone, unmistakably, dipping its wing.
More Poems by Beth Ann Fennelly