by Wendy Taylor Carlisle

Larry cuts stone in a cloud of hummingbirds. It is hot.

He is patient. The birds are hungry.

They zoom around him like animate drones as the patio

emerges from a tumble of rock.

How does he do this? Patiently, with string and level.

I am confounded by this skill,

being an expert in the surface cut only, the self-inflicted

wound, the removal of splinters.

Larry’s saw drones. My husband and I feed and feed

the hummers, little blast furnaces,

all through the hot months, sugar and water disappear

down their ruby throats.

Larry works stoically, week into week, then finishes,

packs his tools and leaves.

We think the birds should have gone south by now, too.

Fall is ten days away.

We silently urge them to fly. We stop filling the feeders.

We forget how beautiful they were,

circling Larry’s head like a crown. They buzz the windows.

They are unwilling to leave

their just-paved patio. We feed them again.

By morning, they are gone.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 22, Issue 2.

Carlisle_HeadshotGreg_ComnesWendy Taylor Carlisle lives in the Arkansas Ozarks. She is the author of three books and five chapbooks. Her most recent full-length book is The Mercy of Traffic, (Unlikely Books, 2019.) Her work appeared in two anthologies in 2018, Untold Arkansas (et alia Press) and 50/50 (Quill’s Edge Press.) For more information, check her website at

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