Two Poems

by H.K. Hummel

If You and I Said Fuck It, and Bought the Ranch in Montana

I’d have hands that could set bone
or arc a two-bit axe.

I’d study how gravity pulls sugar through apple,
what it means to straighten a river,

to keep a clutch of cedar waxwings
coming back.

You’d have a mountain ridge rain-shadow,
a distortion in your voice like trout under creek water;

your hands would untangle fishing nets,
or our child’s wet hair. You’d listen to how stillness

breaks in front of an avalanche,
the way elk disappear into serviceberry,

what silences surround an instarring gypsy moth.

Yesterday’s Bestiary for Tomorrow

The ivory-billed woodpecker knockers us in the swampy bottomlands with an axiom on survival. We memorize its red mohawk and high-pitched toot, kent, kent, kent, then search the bald cypress and tupelo as if looking for Aristotle’s half-soul. If desire can be prayer, we might say let us be here together. How we listen, these little epochs.


A school of akule columns into the hosanna of us, a trembling knot of this every only now. A shirring big-eyed wonder-mess of unified goldshine. Boundaries redefined mid-whirl. Now a globe, an atoll, a flying buttress. Togetherness manifest, togetherness solidified, togetherness as an act of defiance. As trust of other.


When it comes, it is the sensation of peering through a View-Master: sage scrub hills of San Clemente Island invaded by sea. Kodachrome tints circa 1979: aqua and goldenrod. I scissor-kicked beyond the 3-D loom of the cliffs, listening to the water sigh against sandstone. My brother, face down beside me, rasped through a snorkel. He popped up blinking, coughing. A manta ray bigger than us: a diamond of night sky fluttering below. Our feet touched nothingness. We weren’t afraid.

H.K. Hummel has published two poetry chapbooks, Boytreebird (2013) and Handmade Boats (2010). Her work has appeared in places such as Flyway: Journal of Writing & Environment, Poemeleon, Meridian, and The Southern Poetry Anthology Volume VI: Tennessee. She teaches creative writing at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.