Learning to Embrace Spring–Honorable Mention
I have a confession to make, for the past two weeks I’ve been making friends with a hummingbird that nested on our land. I’ve been visiting her daily, mastering the calmest approach that my footfalls over fallen branches can arrange. The same practiced-breath and lightness I use to crack the door to glimpse my children dreaming.
At first, she refused my company, buzzed my head, flickered wildly around me as warning when I went to peek into her nest. Her nest of woven feathers, leaves and fuzz. Her nest that perfectly echoes the shade of the branches it balances upon. Her nest that cradles two soft-white eggs.
But over time, we have become easy with each other’s company. She has grown used to my hushed tones and coos, the thick black camera and long lens, my relief that her eggs are unharmed, still hidden from the hawks and crows arching overhead. She lets me come near without flinching. I have been allowed to watch her breathe. I have been allowed to stay long enough to catch the light glancing her feathers, the aperture of beauty opening wide.
I’ve been trying to name this pull that keeps me coming back to her. A blend of curiosity and fear. A few quiet moments of connection that do not require any filters, are not rooted in language. Her two eggs that remind me what my own body pruned years ago, refused to grow past spring. Or, the anything-is-possible magic that hangs in the early morning air as the weather continues to soften away from winter, while the tight buds on the branch are preparing to bloom.
But, I know it’s more than that. Which is why this is a confession. The last two weeks my mother-world has been overwhelmed with the shifts that accompany raising a child with special needs: the frustration and failings, the sleepless-heartache and fear. The inevitable passage of seasons that only highlight his delays, how far we are slipping behind. The haunted idea that I am not doing enough to help him.
When I saw her for the first time, tilted mid-air, wings blurred into motion, I thought that is how I want to learn to navigate these fears—a controlled flailing, not one that anchors me to the ground. When I saw her, I looked up. And I began to forget the depression my heavy footsteps left in the mud. And for that, I am grateful.
Megan Merchant lives in the tall pines of Prescott, AZ. She is the author of two full-length poetry collections: Gravel Ghosts (Glass Lyre Press, Awarded 2016 Best Book Award), The Dark’s Humming (Awarded 2015 Lyrebird Prize, Glass Lyre Press), four chapbooks, and a forthcoming children’s book with Philomel Books. Most recently, she was the recipient of the 2016-2017 COG Literary Award, judged by Juan Felipe Herrera, U.S. Poet Laureate. She was also the recipient of the Las Vegas Poets Prize. You can find her work at meganmerchant.wix.com/poet.