The Day We See the Hummingbird Hawk Moth in the Oriental Garden by Megan Savage

 

 
 
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The Day We See the Hummingbird Hawk Moth in the Oriental Garden by Megan Savage

08/17/2006

Look at this flower, I say, whatís its name? Phlox, you say. Look, thereís something hovering in the phlox. Itís a hummingbird, I say. I look to you for confirmation, but I cannot read your face because you have never learned to make an expression that shows emotion, not even to confirm that I am right. This is a problem for us, because I donít know when you are angry with me or when you are simply hungry. Once I fed you grilled cheese but you wanted me to stop wearing short skirts to Bar None with my girlfriends; another time I apologized for snapping because youíd under-tipped the cabbie but really you just needed a protein shake.
  The thing that looks like a hummingbird is bobbing like a hummingbird, beating tiny wings like a hummingbird. It dips something that looks like a spindly beak into the phlox flower. Look, itís feeding, I say, with its trunk thing. Proboscis, you say. You donít catch my delight because not only can you not make expressions, you cannot recognize them in others. This is a problem for us because you donít know when my face signals erotic bliss or pain.
  Listen, I say, itís humming, like you did last night in bed. Last night in bed after you came you rolled off me and said, Iím no sucker for love. Because I didnít know whether or not to laugh, I raised my eyebrows. The thing that looks like a hummingbird is dipping from flower to flower, piercing their insides like a needle piercing an ice-numbed ear. As it hums past my face I squint to examine it, but it flies too fast for my eyes. Isnít it a hummingbird, I ask? Hummingbirds donít have antennae, you say.
  Later when we get home I write the Conservation Department. I report seeing an animal that looks like a hummingbird, flies like a hummingbird and eats from flowers like a hummingbird. But itís not a hummingbird, I tell them. I think itís some sort of imposter.
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Megan Savage is pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at Indiana University where she is
the Fiction Editor of Indiana Review. She hails from New England, and it is taking her
some time to learn the names of Midwestern flora and fauna.