it’s an obscure
ornithological fact

the lifespan of a
common hummingbird
is 20 to 25 years
and i know hummingbirds

i feed them
equal portions water and sugar
hung in a red-tinted mason jar

my cat likes to eat them
but they’re hard to catch

she stalks them for hours
then settles for doves and lizards

there’s more lizards
than anything else around here
many with half a tail
and all those poor doves missing a foot
it’s very sad

there are millions of hummingbirds
in costa rica

i’m telling you,
i was there in ’04 and saw them all

they have hummingbird-themed
grocery stores
feather outlets
knockoff sneakers
hosiery, breath mints

two hummingbird
museums

there’s so many the locals go
on hummingbird hunts

they scoop them out of the sky
with big nets
then grind them into
gourmet cat foods

cat obesity is
a big issue

everyone in costa rica knows about
hummingbirds
and death

it’s a noteworthy numerological fact
twenty to twenty five years

i’m reminded of your
collection of adjectives
your legacy scoured from books
magazines and newspapers

your belief that there are no “facts”

and i want to tell you again
twelve years after the fact of your death
that your encyclopedia is
wrong about hummingbirds

to share your delight again
when i add new adjectives
to your collection

to say to you that it’s

an elementary jurisdictional fact
a regrettable rapid-fire fact
a primordial paleontological fact

that hummingbirds live
twenty to twenty-five years

~

Image credit:Zdeněk Macháček

Eliot Jacobson is a retired professor of mathematics and computer science who has had a lifelong love affair with poetry.  Eliot has published several poems over the years but considers himself to be more of an affectionate spectator than a writer himself.  Some of Eliot’s recent work can be found on his personal website www.ijmp.org.