Heather Bourbeau


The abandoned raised wooden boxes are gone,

given to a neighbor who has chosen a religious life.

I am struck by his youth, this man who has chosen

communion over copulation.

I wipe my feet, brush my jeans, my legs, my hair—

aware I have disturbed the earwigs under the piles.

At night, together, they will dive into the earth,

eat the entropy of decaying leaves.

Before I sleep, the fawn dives into the agapanthus,

its hooves and teeth tearing at the tall stems.

Not only for crickets and rats, this dark.

All this earth moves underneath me.

In the morning, the crisping air is not yet cool enough

to lull the hummingbirds into delicious torpor.

And so, outside before the latening dawn,

we inhale the fog together.

I learn that hummingbirds do not form flocks

even when migrating. I stare at the blue-throated and Anna’s,

wonder if their solitude is to spare us

the pain of too much beauty gathered at once.

Heather Bourbeau’s work has appeared in 100 Word Story, Alaska Quarterly ReviewThe Kenyon Review, Meridian, and The Stockholm Review of Literature. She was a contributing writer to Not On Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond with Don Cheadle and John Prendergast. She has worked with various UN agencies, including the UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia and UNICEF Somalia. Her forthcoming collection “Monarch” (Cornerstone Press, 2023) is a poetic memoir of overlooked histories from the American West. Her most recent collection is a poetry conversation with Irish-Australian poet Anne Casey, Some Days The Bird, which includes “Congregation.”

Website: heatherbourbeau.com Twitter: @hfbourbeau