hummingbird

Sleep By Peter Warzel

blue throat
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4:00 AM rising. My sleep is ravaged by hummingbirds. I hear the buzz first, the whirr. I know it is a dream but it is a call also to wake to industriousness. I fight it. I am pissed at being awake and my bed becomes a battlefield. I reach to touch the dog in the dark knowing D. is not there but find that Padmé is missing too. Three books are in their place, always three at a time.
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Books as literal bed partners began in Europe years ago, in Budapest. I could not sleep so kept CNN International turned on the television at low volume hoping white noise and flickering light would mesmerize me. They did not help so I read one of the twenty or so books I would read on these two-week trips. I placed the book on the bed next to me to fill the space and slept, eventually. I have been married thirty-nine years total with two wives and most likely have slept alone thirteen of that count. Bedded alone maybe better said as sleep is elusive and increasingly so.
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When awake at two or three AM you begin to inventory the night. Santa Fe is a peculiarly quiet city, the continual hum of the grand cities absent. Silence is startling at any time so even the whirr of wings will wake you.
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I will not make coffee until four AM on the chance that I will grow tired and find sleep again. “I have lost too much sleep/I’m gonna find it…” Shawn Colvin’s song on a maddening loop. Crepuscular music.
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This morning I was set to rise early to fish in the Valles Caldera with my fellow exile Michael Brown. Not this early. My task was set for 6:00 AM when I would drive to the Burrito Spot for two breakfast burritos for our hour drive, Michael meeting me back at the apartment at 6:45. The Spot’s two shops on Cerrillos Road were the only ones offering breakfast burritos that early according to their web site and no, they were not open as advertised, though the neon sign in the window of the closest said open.
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Sometimes I wake simply because sleep is completed, sometimes because of the Clangs. A long gone friend described the Clangs as the panic of that cold ball of shit working its way slowly towards your heart. The Clangs get me more often these days before dawn.
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Then what? I leave the lights out and maneuver in the dark so not to disturb Alex and Svenja across our courtyard. I usually do not turn on the radio either until about six-thirty not wanting to disrupt the remedial properties of silence. I never read due to my black-out but sometimes write by the clean light of the Mac screen, notebook laid across the keyboard in my lap. I do read newspapers online and trip across the world lightly through the NYT, The London Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, sometimes The Santa Fe New Mexican, though that is a hometown paper, a comfort and nuisance like weekly papers in small town America, though daily. The Taos News is a weekly and locals there subscribe to it for fire starter.
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Rarely do I start a fire this early and certainly not until November but when the cold creeps in beneath the doors the hiss and pop is comforting as I plan the day already started.
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Suddenly the day is deep on. Sometimes three, four hours into it before I need to ready for work and decide if it is a formal day – starched shirt and jeans – or informal – washed shirt, jeans, white Chuck Taylors. I adjust my calendar for things I can and cannot do, jot meandering thoughts like these in my notebook, knock off emails to staff and Board Directors, and think about the Denver house not yet rising and perhaps think about the conversation with D. last evening and whether I should be concerned about her or not today. At times there is a decided instability in her words, each one not connecting to the next, edgy, ready to run away on a frenzied walk-about. I wonder whether the voice and the reality are the same or if this distance is the cause and concern, the catalyst of my disquiet. She is in charge of her own kingdom and I can only listen to dispatches from the chancellor.
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When I walk out into the yard for air the night sky is ripe with stars, we turning beneath at a fast clip, and then later a linear line of orange-fired clouds outline the mountains up Canyon Road. Coyotes talk some mornings before the sun, most likely near the School for Advanced Research due east of here or in the river bed, the trickle that halves downtown from the Barrio de Analco.
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This morning my hummingbird is feeding voraciously as if autumn is coming on hard. I rarely see it, he, singular, en route from north to south through the neighborhood feeders and flowers mapped by instinctual energy efficiency. 5:00 AM, it feeds while I watch, flits up into a seeping pine tree and hovers then sits a limb, waiting for me to leave and go inside. When I do it goes to the feeder again, juicy with Perky-Pet Instant Nectar and I see the white bars on its fanned-out tail as it hovers. This is a real look at my visitor and I pull the bird book from the window shelf – blue throated hummingbird, male. There is one green dot on the map in the book over Santa Fe. That is my boy.
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A gift for not sleeping today. A naming. The words complete this live thing at my kitchen window – language has defined the morning. “And to imagine a language means to imagine a form of life.”*
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     * Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein, translated by G. E. M. Anscombe.
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peter
Peter Warzel has published poetry, fiction, essays, and non-fiction articles in newspapers, literary journals, and national magazines including Pilgrimage, Zone3, the Roanoke Review, Grays Sporting Journal, Cowboys and Indians Magazine, and New Mexico Magazine. I live in Denver and the place of exile – Santa Fe – and everywhere in-between.
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