H.K. Hummel's poetry has recently been published in Calyx,
Quay, and Babel Fruit.
She is the recipient of Western Australia's 2009 Katherine
Susannah Prichard Emerging
Writer in Residence award. She is co-editor of Blood Orange
and lives in Berkeley, California
This is how we can begin:
learning the proper force of hands on cupboard doors,
the side-long stretching sweep as bay laurels reach
across downward sliding creeks;
remembering to step quietly as if our beloved, exhausted, is
witnessing the half-hidden needful looks of others
as if watching for shrouded trout in cutback banks.
This is how we can begin to take up the pieces we so want to
even the already trampled, ruined, lost-
the water thickening with sludge and muck; the love, deeply
and wanting, then working, with everything
to soothe it all back into place, to allay the herky-jerky
and let it be, uncompromised, rested, new.
This Old Dog Devotion
This old dog devotion
keeps waiting at the chamber door
of the heart. At the softest of sounds
her ears go up, alert; she noses the air,
thumps a hefty tail, once, twice
with cautious hopefulness.
Dry leaves scuttle in the shifting breeze,
then night's great gap of nothing.
The streetlight flickers off
when dawn drifts like fog down the street.
A hard, sure knock against the door:
the newspaper boy flings
another heavy missive from the world.
This wild tidal moon has a tad crazed late night jogger
pulling a reluctant dog full tilt. Our own full moon fever
brought the frisson of a date night fight. And yet, in the
midst of our quarreling, you become a gentle cosmic taxi
driver: caught amidst the false moons of Main Street
lamplight, scuttling from the splashes of spilled gasoline,
a preying mantis (all bright green angles of legs, wings and
antennae) does it's best-a simple insect prayer perhaps, or
certainly, a plain animal wish for safety, calm, and the
hushed softness of true moonlight. How gently you lift the
fragile bit of life, an improbably pointy chartreuse twig.
It clings to your shirt, a creature more like an animated
doll umbrella, or a caricature of some alien visitor than
anything else familiar. As we drive home, you take it to the
place you think it might yearn for more than any other.
Imagine, how miraculous to suddenly have the jagged city
lights and cement disappear and find yourself, set down
carefully amongst a lush reedy riverside flooded with the
scent of peonies, damp loam, and little else? How can I not
give everything lovely and wild (all fragile and alien, all
awkward and prayerful) held inside this oceanic body, this
lunar-tugged heart to a man who chooses to be the benevolent
well-wisher of lost insects?
Incendiary as late summer hillsides
we are fire and alcohol.
One terrible outburst, one forceful breath
and our house would drift as ash.
One deliberate arsonist's gesture,
and we could draw a thin whip of
flame to encircle this town--
a fuse to dynamite demolition.
Contained within the iron limits
of a skillet or chafing dish,
we light our own aurora borealis,
burn a striated curtain of stellar blue
and turn sugar to caramel.