May/June 2022 • Vol. XLIV No. 3 June 1, 2022 |

Bodies in the Air

If you want to talk, just say the word, hummingbird. I want to know when you will flick-flack from crepe myrtle or beautyberry bush. In Morocco’s Erg Chebbi desert, spiders cartwheel down sand dunes and how can you not smile when you learn there’s an Italian ant called graminicola that somersaults in the forest? Splash tetras leap from the river onto leaves fin-stuck, just long enough for eggs to grow then swell into a very fine fry. Salamanders backflip over the face of a rock to avoid birds, whip their tails up and over, throw their long backs till tiny forelegs reach for the clouds. So when you finally speak it into the air and let it leap off—remember it’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted from you. I want to see your words hover in the air—watch them be the only feathered thing on this blue planet that can zip backwards, even upside down.

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Photo of Aimee Nezhukumatahil

Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of the New York Times bestseller World of Wonders (Milkweed, 2020), which was named Barnes & Noble Book of the Year. She is also the author of four books of poetry, including Oceanic (Copper Canyon, 2018). Awards for her writing include Guggenheim and NEA fellowships. She is the poetry editor of Sierra Club’s Sierra magazine and is a professor of English in the MFA program at the University of Mississippi.

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