Maria Hummel


I have grown used to your second departures,
after the car is already thrumming in the driveway,
but the checkbook, the wallet perches on the back


of the couch, and you must charge in for it again,
the cold reaching through the open door, the intensity
of geese just as they sweep the earth, your arrival,


my second chance at good-bye. I used to resent it,
young enough to think we should remember all
our necessities before we left, my pockets stuffed


with lists, my handbag swinging like a heart
on a string. What is it, I would say, impatient
at your return, until I learned to find for you the item


you left behind, usually your money. That was
before the door became another kind of window,
held fast, crossed by storms like the rest of them,


whistled in the high wind. Before the house ached
around us like stretched skin, and the possibility
of children, and we were no longer alone in the world,


two people beneath a bird-shattered sky, but
accountable to hold each other, like roots and riverbank,
air and branches. Although every year we grow less


divisible, as clay and tree-knot gleaming with a steep,
worn loveliness, as leaf hush and the quiet of sky
unfolding into rain, I still can’t forget things. I always


take them when I leave, and much as I long for a second
departure, to find you standing there, handing me the one
lost glove, the mashed hat, I already know one of us


must go first, entering the singing canopy of streets,
and one of us will wait, hope for the sound of a door
opening, that love is the last remembered thing.

Maria Hummel
Poem, copyright © 2004 by Maria Hummel
Appearing on From the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2004, From the Fishouse