After the Town Reunion, For Jim


After the Town Reunion
For Jim

Sandwiched in age
between
my two older sisters
and ten years my senior,
he is someone from so long ago
that he seems more myth than actuality.
Yet when he asks me to write a poem
about hummingbirds,
even now, more than a year after the reunion
and sixty years since I had seen him before that,
honored to be noticed,
as little kids are with older kids,
I comply with his wishes.

My first hummingbird days, Jim,
centered around the trumpet vine
that clung to the trellis
on the south side of our big front porch.
It was the side you wouldn’t have seen
as you walked from your house to the grade school
across the street from us,
but it was where
both hummers
and I
loved to hang out.
I lay on the porch on my stomach
on a folded-over blanket,
chin on my fists,
legs crossed at the ankles,
to watch their thrusting flights,
or stood on the concrete sidewalk—
roughened to prevent falls on the ice in winter,
but its numerous small ravines
filled nonetheless with my flesh—
the remainders of knees oft-skinned
while attempting to round its curve
on roller skates,
or simply from falls during rushed passages
in the heat of a game of hide-and-seek
or cops and robbers.

Whether I lay or stood
made no difference
to the hummingbirds
who executed their
sweep and dart, then paused suspended,
wings creating great outspread parasails
that held their small bodies
motionless in mid-air as they sipped
nectar from the speckled throats
of orange honeysuckle blooms,
profuse and heavy on their tangled vines.

Shifting to the nearby grass,
I closed my eyes to the music of their wings,
opened my eyes to see their blur—
another smudged memory
that moved too quickly
out of hearing
and of sight.

 

And, lest you, like Jim, think I have been neglecting hummingbirds in my poetry, HERE and HERE and HERE are three links to poems that at least mention hummers.

27 thoughts on “After the Town Reunion, For Jim

    1. lifelessons Post author

      Thanks, Dolly. I would have been seven when he graduated from H.S. but in our small town you knew everyone and he was just a year younger than my oldest sister. He and his brother were good athletes and two of the male hotties in our town so even at that age I knew who they were. I never saw him again until our town reunion which was held in Arizona rather than South Dakota (where we had all lived) because the weather is better there. Ha. At any rate, suddenly we are the same age in that leveling-out that occurs after 50 or 60. Seems odd, though.

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        1. lifelessons Post author

          Definitely. I love these town reunions. Once ever 5 years, they convene in Murdo, South Dakota, where I grew up. But all other years, they have them in Arizona, where my sister and a number of old townmates live all or part of the year now. I went to the last one and that’s where I talked to Jim and his wife. He then started reading my blog, thus the prompt!

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      1. SAM VOELKER

        Don’t die,,,,,we need you~! Move that hammock under a tree or bush where you can lie prone and follow them, don’t follow the male, he is not guarding the nest, he is just being mean and keeping her away from HIS territory. I have never seen a male (hummingbird) do anything to help with the nest~! (like some men I know)

        She will alight on a branch nearby and slowly work her way to the nest. Tiny thing, not much larger than your thumb~! I have some as low as a few feet off the ground~!
        Though we are having a few cold days now, most have gone toward you, only one old Rufous Hummingbird is still around and seems out of place~! Mostly we see the black-chinned and ruby-throated nesting here. Interesting thing is that the adults leave first,,, now how do the young know where to go~? I am not sure but that old rufous seems to pass through late each fall,, probably just my imagination~! (side interest) My one “redneck conservative” brother in law insisted that they wait for the geese to fly by and ride on their backs… Those conservatives will believe anything~! He is really a real fine loving man, but not too bright~!

        I will post photos as soon as I can find them in my badly organized photos~!
        SAM

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        1. lifelessons Post author

          I’ve seen photos from friends who have hummingbird nests in trees or bushes right outside their window and I am always so jealous. The tree next to my hammock is ruled by a bossy male who chases all the butterflies away from the tabachine and all the other hummers away from his tree. I’m not likely to see a hummingbird nest there.. plus the foliage is too dense.

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      But my older sister just commented that she didn’t think we had hummingbirds in Murdo and that they were actually hummingbird moths! Which brings me around to the numerous posts about hummingbird moth caterpillars! Yet although I see tons of hummingbirds, I have never seen one of the hummingbird moths here. Full circle.

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      Reply
    1. lifelessons Post author

      Thanks, Doug. When you come from a very small town, people tend to wax nostalgic at reunions because for years we knew everything about each other, then many times knew nothing about each other for ten or twenty or thirty years, but what is strange is that we never talk about what we’ve done since–we always go back to old times.

      Liked by 3 people

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