The hummingbird hovered in the kitchen, wrong
side of the door, thudded the glass, stopped

all talk. Our boys drew at the table. I chopped
garlic at the counter. You filled wineglasses

near the sink. The bird in place, everyone
still. More fish swimming the damp June air

than god of war striking a wall, stoking
its foundry of anger and desire—helmeted, snake-

waving Huitzilopochtli, one of your subjects,
devotions, however ironic, maybe half, maybe

less. Wings nearly invisible, a crucifix hologram,
posture held static, petitioning, priestlike, green

back, black and red throat, hardly
the reincarnated warrior, syncretic Mars—

the wars were elsewhere, Donbas, Libya,
Afghanistan, elsewhere, far from our kitchen.

And then everyone moved. I billowed a tea
towel, some Sifnian souvenir, Apollonian

sunburst, gently covered the bird mid-air,
asked you to open the door, in one motion he was

liberated, flying back to the feeder. I wanted you
to love me. I could calm, pacify Mars. I thought

I did it for you. Before the war came
to us, before I knew we were fighting it.


John Hennessy is the author of two collections, Coney Island Pilgrims and Bridge and Tunnel, and his poems appear in many journals and anthologies, including The Believer, Best American PoetryHarvard ReviewThe Huffington Post, JacketThe New RepublicPoetryThe Poetry Review (UK), Poetry at Sangam (India), Poetry Ireland Review, and The Yale Review. He is the translator, with Ostap Kin, of A New Orthography, selected poems by Serhiy Zhadan, finalist for the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, 2021, and winner of the Derek Walcott Prize, 2021, and the anthology Babyn Yar: Ukrainian Poets Respond (part of the Harvard Library of Ukrainian Literature/HUP). Their new translations of poems by Yuri Andrukhovych have appeared in NYRB, TLS, and The New Statesman. Hennessy is the poetry editor of The Common and teaches at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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