Maria Hummel

Cold War

I had three brothers to watch over me.
I had a collie, a yard with lilies-of-the-valley.
I had a father, mother, birthdays, ice cream.
At two, I played at drowning. At ten, I dreamed
of nuclear death, and whenever a plane went
coasting over, it marked the end. A cloud bent
back on itself. Our house and all its hills
peeled and boiled dry—neighbors spilled
out like rice into the rubble and bone-dust
of my mind’s eye. What kind of child entrusts
herself to suffering, vowing I alone will live
to the autumn corn answering live,
live on
, along the red rivers and farms?
Like a bride I waited, touching my inner arms.

Maria Hummel
Cold War was first published in PN Review.