The black-chinned hummer buzzes my flowered shirt,
bringing to mind the letter H, its history of an inferior life among
letters, and a Phoenician origin signifying fence.
An aspirate dependent upon others, or a line strung between posts,
even whispered, H does not contain itself.
Disconsolate or annoyed, the bird moves on.
Do names depend upon the power of symbols, or do they power the symbols?
In the 6th century A.D., Priscian disparaged H, saying it existed only to accompany.
Clouds shade the way.
The black-chin extends its grooved tongue at a rate of 15 licks per second.
Alone, the H’s voice is barely audible.
Through the trees, across the crushed rock driveway and beyond the barbed wire
and chain link, I hear deadfall snapping under hooves.
At rest, its heart beats an average of 480 beats per minute.
Modern Greek denies its existence.
Say khet, say honor and where. Say hinge, sigh and horse. Say depth.
Originally published in Prime Number Magazine, one of my favorite online literary journals, in 2013: