I. (36°07’04.5″N, 86°47’48.8″W)

It happens that we might live
a life which isn’t ours. Desire rises:

it’s mercury, it’s honey.
It doesn’t matter.

We spend whole lifetimes getting
unlost and unlost and unlost.

For years, you could mistake prayers
for blessings. To make sense of them,

work in a church office, preferably one with
a corrupt minister. Study her boots, her rhetoric.

Serve warm cake. Who knows what nourishes
the wanderer?

 

 

II. (32°00’40.9″S, 115°33’03.8″E)

You could be a solitary woman
who has gone days without talking,

traveled by taxi, subway, train, airplane, car,
bus, ferry, and foot

to the rocky prominence
of a remote island

to watch for the green flash of rock parrots,
to eat a meal of apples, cheese and tea.

Spray lifts off a cresting wave,
sand brushes limestone.

You could be this woman,
you could be another.

 

 

III. (36°08’03.6″N, 86°47’40.1″W)

Midnight midcontinent, hip-deep
in ice water.

Two storms, St. Jude. Don’t let this be
my lost cause.

Now, my father is on a broken boat circling
off the coast of Baja.

He scowls like Captain Haddock:
rain mixes with salt water in his beard.

Then, a hurricane with my dead friend’s name
scrapes across the Atlantic.

Midnight midcontinent,
I’m hip-deep.

Fury was never hers,
but I’ll take it. I’ll take it all.

With my right hand, I hold the Pacific at bay;
with my left hand I invite the storm to come.

 

 

IV. (36°09’20.9″N, 86°47’00.4″W)

Another possibility:
metal takes air in civil union.

A woman on a bicycle is a theorem
about the adamant body.

It’s solemn enough until she starts to coast:
light superimposed on water, flowing

over bedrock. The air thrums with starlings.
Heat—heart-built heat:

a woman, a murmuration,
a cascade of sparks falling

past arc welders on a scaffolding.
A woman carries herself through air

whispering steady, steady.
The day echoes a recurring dream

until dawn interrupts: the thin line of a heron
flies over the rooftops of the city skyline.

 

 

V. (46°11’33.6″N, 114°10’19.8″W)

A jackrabbit stirs the sagebrush,
a red fox disappears

beyond the scrim of
song and neon.

Let us ignore a few things
but not everything.

Finches, then river water, glint
behind the Hideout bar.

No one is sure
how we will get home

when tonight ends.
It’s simpler than you imagine:

the jukebox is playing Willie;
the fox has appeared and disappeared

in the field skirting this place;
and we are here,

sipping tequila in silence,
waiting for the evening chorus.

 

 

VI. (47°11’32.7″N, 114°5’16.8″W)

My father labors in a barn, casting
a Buddha of cement and sutra.

One bird, then another
dips over the fence wire.

Say’s phoebes keep a vigilant choreography:
barn roof nest to water spigot, to fencepost to roof—

a woven two-bird swoop.
The sun hasn’t risen,

my father is breathing on his hands,
fixing a prayer into stone.

 

 

VII. (45°38’09.2″N, 113°26’36.2″W)

You wake up needing sky that overwhelms.
The damp scours the wild onion and sage

as clouds scrape low. A buck-and-rail fence line traces
an old homestead where the mint grows wild now.

You make a tourist from Hastings, Nebraska cry
with relief by giving him what he needed:

the plain miracle of facts.
Today, you and I need to know

what we know: a seismic shift can
set a clock to keep new time.

Beetle blight and summer burns throw
new points of balance.

Warblers hide while singing, and the grayling arc
in the river outside Wisdom.

 

 

VIII. (35°29’23.9″N, 91°58’21.6″W)

Rain sweeps fog off the brackish water
where we drift in an aluminum boat.

The gravity of this world is a constant;
so much can’t be that can’t be undone.

Yet, today we have alligator gar, armadillos,
and a heron scouting the shoals.

My husband’s cast whistles
into white air.

 

H.K. Hummel

H.K. Hummel is an Assistant Professor, Creative Writing at University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She is also the founder of the Blood Orange Review journal. Her works have recently appeared in Iron Horse Literary Review, Booth, Heron Tree, and other literary journals.

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