Lately, two black-chinned hummingbirds
have taken over the giant hyssop
we grow on the balcony —
grown for them, it’s true
and for the bumblebees that come in July,
more vulnerable despite their size.
It used to be that only the broad-tailed hummers
fed at the purple flutes of the flowers
but they are mostly gone,
chased off by these smaller bellicose birds
who fight even among themselves,
smacking their pale chests together
in the air.
When one of the old kind appeared,
its scarlet throat flashing in the sun,
our cat swatted it from the blossoms:
it died slowly,
the red on its throat fading to gray
as though it had been a pulse of life.
It is almost August now.
The horizon stretches east,
an expanse of dark plain,
and the morning gleams from the patio
like wedding china.
But it is false summer:
when I look at these new birds,
at the cat patrolling the boards,
my heart clenches in a fist.