Catherine A. Coundjeris

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Asking for Signs

Stymied by disease and despair
I washed the dishes in the little kitchen.
I thought how nothing would ever be good again
and I grew gloomier by the minute
weighed down with depressed confusions.

Then like a drowning victim gulps air,
spluttering on water and fearful
I said a prayer half-heartedly:
Show me a sign it will get better.
I scrubbed and washed the dishes.

I didn’t think I would get an answer.
My belief was a ragged flag
discarded and torn and of no use.
I felt of no use as well
as I kept washing the dishes.

A tiny hummingbird came,
hovering over the red geraniums
in mother’s white window box
outside the window. I scarcely
noticed as I washed and washed.

But the hummingbird alighted
at each flowering sepal
persistent, perfect, passionate,
vibrating from shoot to shoot,
engaging my eyes and attention.

Wonderment overwhelmed me.
I had always wanted to see a
hummingbird up close and now
it was happening in front of me
for such a long duration.

And then it was gone from view.
And I returned to washing,
washing dishes and forks and knives.
Realizing only later what
the tiny bird had done for me.

God willing, I will remember.

Catherine’s poetry is published in literary magazines, including Paper Dragons, Kaleidoscope, Jalmurra, Cholla Needles, Bewildering Stories, The Raven Review, Open Door Magazine, Stone Hill Journal, Honeyguide, Zephyr Review, Phare, Blue Bird Word, Life and Legends, and Jonah Magazine. She also has stories published in Proem, Quail Bell, and KeepThings on Instagram. She has recently published an essay, “Éowyn as Light Bearer,” in an anthology from Luna Press called Not the Fellowship Dragon’s Welcome. Catherine is passionate about adult literacy and ESL learning.

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Artwork: Hummingbirds and Passion Flowers by Martin Johnson Heade, 1885. Public Domain.


  1. We have many hummers around. They are such a sign of life! I particularly love these lines:
    I didn’t think I would get an answer.
    My belief was a ragged flag
    discarded and torn and of no use.


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