One Life

By Maria Hummel Maria Hummel
I don’t know when I stopped believing in heaven,
or if I do. Maybe I just stopped receiving heaven.

The sun rose. I climbed into the pines’ brittle
crowns. You could say I was retrieving heaven.

Not a place or a time, but blindness to everything
but one light, pulsing, pleasing: heaven.

We married in September. Everyone was still
wearing their summer shirts, sleeves of heaven.

It was white, there was a bend, and the car
spun. It was then I prayed, pleading with heaven.

When he goes limp, lie him down on the gurney,
Mom. Oxygen mask, breathing heaven.

The hospital shines, our son flies in and out.
The snow falls hard, relieving heaven.

He loves the colors of planets. I teach him
their lifelessness: beautiful, deceiving heaven.

I don’t know who is buried beneath me
but I hear her break as I am leaving heaven.

How can you cry for one ruined life, Maria,
when you could be grieving for heaven?

Source: Poetry (May 2012).


This poem originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

May 2012


Maria Hummel is the author of the poetry collection House and Fire, winner of the 2013 APR/Honickman First Book Prize, and two novels: Motherland (Counterpoint, 2014) and Wilderness Run (St. Martin's, 2003). Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in Poetry, New England Review, Narrative, the Sun, the New York Times, and the centenary anthology The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of Poetry Magazine.

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Poems by Maria Hummel

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Parenthood, Sorrow & Grieving, Religion, Faith & Doubt


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