I find the hummingbird in still life

Hayley Bowen


her needlepoint beak in an open splinter,
blur of wings now frozen at rest.
She isn’t dead yet, but her tongue
throbs stiff and swollen, disease
eating her from the inside out.
This happens with hummingbirds,
in the suburbs, in the springtime.
Too much of a sweet thing, honey
given with good intention and care,
rots her throat with fungus. Alien nectar,
all but impossible to resist, becomes poison.
I know you didn’t know any better.
I know you didn’t mean to hurt her.
Now what do I do? She’ll starve eventually,
unable to feed or fly, she’ll suffer.
What do I do now?




Hayley Bowen graduated from Syracuse University with her MFA in Creative Writing Poetry in May 2023, and will begin her PhD studies in English Literature at Temple University in the fall of 2023, where she will focus on British Romantic literature and ecocriticism. Hayley is the 2022 winner of the Joyce Carol Oates poetry prize, former Poetry Editor at Salt Hill Journal, and her first chapbook, “Dearly Departed,” was published by Finishing Line Press in 2022.