By George Tucker





My grandfather and I sit in the August sun, on the back porch of the house he built himself, watching ruby-throated hummingbirds hover like living jewels near the plastic feeder. The glass of molasses-sweet tea he poured weeps cold and wet in my hand.

"Them humminbirds really do sing. Says they don't in bird books," he says. He wears hearing aids in both ears, and when the batteries are low, they squeal. He can't hear even that, so the batteries are often dead.

"Some mornins they wake me out of a sound sleep," he says.

I know he hung the feeder from the peach-tree branch over the back porch because Grandma liked to watch the birds in the summer. She's been dead six years and the plastic has faded to pink.

"Can't imagine how such a little bird makes such a loud noise," he says. Sweat gleams on his forehead, the color of mulch. "The sweetest songs."

Later, I'll check Sibley's Guide to Birds and learn, indeed, they're voiceless. But now, I say, "I can hear it. It's beautiful."

He turns to me. "What, son?" he says.

George Tucker was raised in the Arkansas Ozarks, where he learned how to dowse for water. He studied writing at Florida International University. Currently, he teaches writing part-time and works at an interactive ad agency where he spends inordinate amounts of time exploring a newly-minted genre: Google haiku.


Brevity copyright   2003
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