Hummingbirds and Hope

About a month ago, I put out a hummingbird feeder. I hadn’t seen any hummingbirds in our yard, but I was hopeful. Sadly, no hummingbirds came. I felt like I had thrown a party and no one showed up. I left the feeder hanging in the tree and didn’t bother to change the nectar. No one was eating it and it felt too discouraging to give up and take it down. I didn’t want to see the empty hummingbird feeder on its side on a shelf in the garage. Then last weekend at dinner, my husband blurted out: “A hummingbird!” It wasn’t at the feeder. It was hovering at the cleome that grow just outside the window. That night, I cleaned the feeder and boiled more sugar water. The next day the hummingbird went back and forth to the feeder all day. I moved my laptop to the dining room to watch. That evening I discovered there were two. Seeing the tiny birds with their blurred wings flit across the yard feels as magical to me as seeing a fairy.


A few weeks ago Miss Rumphius challenged us to write a poem about faith or hope. Here’s my poem about hope (which doesn’t seem to want a title).


Hope is an egg
with a thin white shell,
easily crushed
if stepped on
or dropped.
It can be swallowed whole
by a snake.
And yet, the egg
is the best possible shape
to hold
the unborn.


I wonder if Emily Dickinson’s feathered hope gave birth to my egg.

What form does hope take for you?

For more Poetry Friday, visit Sylvia Vardell at Poetry for Children.

22 replies
      • bookseedstudio
        bookseedstudio says:

        Such a lovely discovery your hubby made! I’m glad to meet your blog & you this way. My hubby & I delight in seeing the hummingbirds that come to our purple coneflowers but like you, a photo of them has so far eluded us. Will think of your poem & hope more hummingbird eggs give us the little fliers.

  1. bjleepoet
    bjleepoet says:

    Beautiful Liz! I was just looking at hummingbird feeders this past week, trying to determine if I would be dedicated enough to keep filling it. I find hummingbirds magical as well. Perhaps I’ll give it a go!

    • lsteinglass
      lsteinglass says:

      I find that seeing the hummingbirds is enough incentive to keep filling the feeder, especially since it’s so easy to boil water and stir in sugar.

  2. readingtothecore
    readingtothecore says:

    This is beautiful, Liz! There was a hummingbird at my fuschia plant yesterday and I thought Disney’s artists must have been inspired by a hummingbird when they created Tinkerbell.

  3. Keri Collins Lewis
    Keri Collins Lewis says:

    Such a lovely poem — I love how you capture the danger and the beauty of life in such a few lines. At one house, we had 4 feeders on the porch and during the annual migration every spot would be filled with birds waiting their turn. It sounded like a busy airport with all those droning wings!

  4. janet wong
    janet wong says:

    I don’t think we have any hummingbirds in my garden (YET–thanks for the lesson of hope and observation), but I love to stand at the window and look at the birds–even if they have eaten all my blueberries. Thank you for your post!

  5. Heidi
    Heidi says:

    1) Now I know the name of the pink “fireworks” plants that grow like crazy all along my sidewalk.
    2) Just this morning I spied the first hummingbird I’ve ever seen in our yard, buzzing all over my purple flowering tree (not, I think, a butterfly bush, but I don’t know what it is). The hummingbird was bluish grey and about 3-4″ long.
    3) I like that your poem is rather instructive than lyrical, since lots of folks need a refresher course in hope. Feather and shell make a delicate but determined and capable pair.


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