An Inkling of Reality by Susan Delaney Spear

An Inkling of Reality
after the photos of Christian Spencer

Deep into my sixties, I dream a dream
of a dining room from my dark, distant past.
The room is barren. The walls, bare.
The green shag’s ground like winter grass,
the once-shiny chandelier hangs shallow
from the ceiling. Suddenly, I see them there!
A childhood charm of hummingbirds hovers,
a fluttering fleet above the light fixture,
beaks, bodies, and heads—all black—
their tails, a flash of fury in flight.

When all at once, the sun switches on,
each wide-open wing awash in light
diffracts fresh prisms of promise.
Red, orange, yellow, green,
blue, indigo, violet: here,
on a hundred holy humming wings,
the bow that sealed an ancient deal,
real, stronger than the strength of steel.

by Susan Delaney Spear

Editor’s Note: Alliteration forms a solid backbone for the dreamy imagery of birds in this ekphrastic poem. For some literary fun, here is a link where you can listen to a poem read aloud in this same alliterative meter, in Middle English, the original language of this form.

Poet’s Note: This poem is written in Anglo Saxon Strong Stress Alliterative Meter, with variations.