The Basics of Iridescence

‘the bare bones of that fleeting / soap-bubble sheen’ /

“The brilliant iridescent colors of hummingbirds are ... structural colors, not pigment, which means they are reflected by microscopic structural features of the feather surface ... composed of layers of tiny air bubbles.”

—Ornithologist David Sibley, “The Basics of Iridescence in Hummingbirds

The basics of iridescence:
the bare bones of that fleeting
soap-bubble sheen,
a pocket of breath caught
in stained-glass evanescence—
it will all make complete sense.

The basics of iridescence:
the brass tacks of those glancing
neon-green glimpses
and ruby-throated flashpoints,
bearing their beauty in fluorescence—
it will all make complete sense.

The way the light changes,
the light changes everything—
as its waves endlessly advance
over some midnight-feathered shore,
crashing it into mercurial color
and a complete and utter nonsense
of wing-flashed brilliance.

Julie Sumner is The Behemoth’s poetry editor. Read more of her work at her blog,

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Also in this Issue

Issue 32 / October 1, 2015
  1. Editor's Note from October 01, 2015

    Issue 32: Sloths’ splendid slowness, Lilias Trotter’s gambit, and a cross-eyed view of God. /

  2. Who Are You Calling a Deadly Sin?

    The sloth’s slowness is its virtue. /

  3. ‘I Cannot Give Myself to Painting’

    Why one of the greatest Victorian artists walked away. /

  4. The Cross Alone Is Our Theology

    What must God be like? Jesus’ death upsets every simple answer. /

  5. Wonder on the Web

    Issue 32: Links to amazing stuff. /

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