heart pulsing 600 times a second,
tiny wings beating even faster
as you rush between blossoms,
sipping gently at nectar.
Yet up close, some male hummingbirds
have bills of serrated buzz saws
lined with sharp hooks,
like barbed wire or shark teeth.
Stabbing and biting, they tear out the feathers of rivals,
lunging like fencers, parrying for access to females.
Huitzilopochtli, Aztec god of war and human sacrifice,
was portrayed as a hummingbird.
The smallest heart beats fastest,
fights for love most fiercely.
Does your heart beat as fast,
would you joust for me as ardently?
[Lorraine Schein is a New York poet whose work has appeared in VICE Terraform, SageWoman, Strange Horizons, and in the anthologies Tragedy Queens: Stories Inspired by Lana del Rey & Sylvia Plath, and forthcoming in Eighteen (Underland Press), and Corners of the World: Judaism. The Futurist’s Mistress, her poetry book, is available from mayapplepress.com.]