Here is one of my favorite poems from this book:
The Dark Night of the Hummingbird
by Diane Ackerman
A lot of hummingbirds die in their sleep,
dreaming of nectar-sweet funnels they sipped.
Moth-light, they swiveled at succulent
blooms, all flash and ripple--like sunset,
but delicate, probing, excitable,
their wings a soft fury of iridescence,
their hearts beating like a tiny drumroll
fourteen hundred times a minute,
their W-shaped tongues, drawing nectar
down each groove, whispering: wheels within wheels.
By day, hovering hard, they fly nowhere
at speed, swilling energy. But to refuel,
they must eat, and to eat they must hover,
burning more air than a sprinting impala.
So, in the dark night of the hummingbird,
while lilies lather sweetly in the rain,
the hummingbird rests near collapse,
its quick pulse halved, its rugged breath shallow,
its W-shaped tongue, & bright as Cassiopeia,
now mumbling words like wistful and wan.
The world at once drug, anthem, bright lagoon,
where its heart knew all the Morse codes
for rapture, pales into a senseless twilight.
It can't store enough fuel to last the night
and hoist it from its well of dreams
to first light trembling on wet fuchsia,
nor break the hard promise life always keeps.
A lot of hummingbirds die in their sleep.
The first stanza deals symbolically with the energy and euphoria of life, while the second stanza concerns night and death. The stanza break is directly in the middle and is definitely the crux of this symmetrical poem.
This poem played a significant role in the choosing of the image for the canvas. I liked the way the beautiful woman exemplified life, while her gesture and facial expression hinted at a need to rest, at least momentarily.
This painting is currently on display at The Forge in Ben Wheeler, Texas. It measures 36" x 36" and is priced at $400.