Wednesday Jun 19

HummelMaria--creditMelanieAbrams Maria Hummel is the author of the poetry collection House and Fire, winner of the 2013 APR/Honickman First Book Prize, and two novels: Motherland (Counterpoint, 2014) and Wilderness Run (St. Martin's, 2003). Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in PoetryNew England ReviewNarrativeThe SunThe New York Times, and the centenary anthology The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of Poetry Magazine. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two sons. Her website can be found here.


I once feared motherhood
would turn me into
my mother. It did.
She lives a continent
away, but I can hear her
footsteps inside mine
as I hurry toward my son’s cries,
or dance for a laugh.
I know I have broken
the same number of glasses
this year. I know without
counting: drop a translucence,
it always smashes.

She sleeps a lot and dreams
of me in the snow.
I sleep little and watch
the tree below my window
choke itself with
blossoms. I’m not one
to say it’s overdoing
spring. I caught my baby’s
pink-eye today. Warm, sticky
bees are climbing my cornea.
How can blindness look like roses?
How can I be so happy
and miss her and miss
her watching me
being me and her?
Humming and reaching.
Kissing this child
as the walls fold in, the wind
passes over. His skin
is so soft, it is pollen.

Purple Crayon Hymn

For your right hand can shake
a line into waves,
and you fall in over your head.

In the land of the dead, the road gets
bigger not longer. The starved and spiked
eat nine kinds of pie.

Mountains have no other side.

For you can draw a whole city
and none of the windows is yours.

For you can learn to frame the moon, return.
All your nights, all your lost little nights.

Mother-Daughter Portrait as Mermaids

        I walk you to school through mist today.
Through its gray layers
I can see your tail still
whisk as scales through sea,
its verdigris, and the song
in the hollow of your throat
that’ll call through love

and storms. We are
late again, flowing
through the gate as fog spits
over our wave-hellos. How
long is an hour? you asked me
yesterday. What could

I say: I wish I could trade
my legs back, dive for
        the old pearl towers
        glittering in the dark-as-plum
        Time has not forgotten them.
        It is I who forget how

I wore their walls.
Look at this ship that swallows you,
tall as salt—I once flew
from room and room
and now my thumb
barely fits in the door.

Photo credit: Melanie Abrams