Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

All Gem and Temper, Anchored in Air


An October visitor has lately surprised me, sipping sage in the garden as the maples and oaks and hackberries and dogwoods show red and yellow and gold… 

Each day I wonder: is this our last together? And think: perhaps that is the not the right question.

It seems a good day for this poem by English poet Mark Roper


Not just how
it hung so still
in the quick of its wings,
all gem and temper
anchored in air;

not just the way
it moved from shelf
to shelf of air,
up down, here there,
without moving;

not just how it flicked
its tongue’s thread
through each butter-yellow
foxglove flower
for its fix of sugar;

not just the vest’s
electric emerald,
the scarf’s scarlet,
not just the fury
of its berry-sized heart,

but also how the bird
would soon be found
in a tree nearby,
quiet as moss at the end
of a bare branch,

wings closed around
its sweetening being,
and then how light
might touch its throat
and make it glow,

as if it were the tip
of a cigarette
on the lip of a world,
whose face,

in the lake’s hush
and the stir of leaves,
might appear
for a moment


For a close reading of Mark Roper’s “Hummingbird”, check out this article in The Guardian


  1. A visit from a hummingbird is always call cause for delight and wonder. 🙂

  2. Love this! An October visit by a hummingbird is such a gift. I’m always sad to take down my feeder in the fall. (Seems like hummingbirds arrive late and leave early from my neighborhood.) I will definitely look at The Guardian article!

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