“The Torpor of Everyday Life”
by Alan Toltzis

2022 Poetry of the Sacred Contest Runner-Up

Red-handled shears in hand,
I pruned and cut back
death and neglect,
pulled suffocating waves of weeds
tumbling green and impish,
pinned in places by spiky lashes
of bougainvillea that had no place here
but here they were
over and around the cactus
threatening to smother decades
of growth.

Soon, the tiny, fluttering, fury
of hummingbirds beating
gravity surrounds me.
They eat all day long
or risk dozing into comas,
body temperatures plummeting.
It is exhausting to stay still.

Suspended midair, wings spread,
their appetite upends fate.
Martyr-like, they hang
from invisible crosses, stalling
eye-level with tapered, flaming,
nectar-laden cups, blooming
along witches broom,
drowsy over the rosemary
as life drains away yet sustains
itself, the mundane strain
of the everyday, hovering
perilous among the flowers.

Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash

Alan Toltzis is the author of four books of poetry—Mercy, 49 Aspects of Human Emotion, Nature Lessons, and The Last Commandment. His poems have appeared in numerous print and online publications. Alan serves as an editor for Poetica Magazine. Find him online at alantoltzis.com; follow him @ToltzisAlan.