Sunday, January 21, 2007

happy birthday, maria

In a long line of the kind and brave, you are the kindest, the bravest. My former neighbor, poet, novelist, about to be a mother--any day now (today!?).

I miss you so much. Oh Maria, be magic!

by Maria Hummel

From the Fishouse

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.