When you were born, which you are not yet,
and grew up, which you have not done,
loved another, which you have not found,
and lasted long in life, which you may,
I gave you this: somewhere there is a tree
that grows its leaves on the inside.
Somewhere a forest that rustles and hushes
in no breeze. Where stones float
and rivers sink below them. Where wine
climbs the throat in white vines,
and the wind is not a whisper
or song or sigh, but the rising
of the ink inside your eyes.
And there, where nothing stays long,
death will be the pressure of a seed
into the earth, and the seed a boat.
When it’s time, step into it.
Let it take you back to this dark
apse, the soft folds swaying.
I will be waiting all around you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Maria Hummel’s poetry and prose have appeared in Poetry, New England Review, Narrative, Creative Nonfiction, and The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of Poetry Magazine. She is also the author of two novels: Motherland (Counterpoint, 2014) and Wilderness Run (St. Martin’s, 2003). A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, she teaches at Stanford University and lives in San Francisco with her husband and two sons. This poem appears in her new poetry collection House and Fire, winner of the 2013 APR/Honickman First Book Prize.