Somewhere There is Hunger, Somewhere, Fear – a poem by Nancy Himel

Somewhere There Is Hunger, Somewhere, Fear			
	─ a cento 

All she had to eat was snow 						 
glad to be swallowed completely. 					
Onions and grease, lumber and bleach, she opened			
with no unstoppable weeping. 					

This is followed by ninety beats of silence				
shimmering in the shock						
mounding the slender bodies as the sun blazed			
skin almost transparent, almost familiar.				

Out ahead, an envoy, blatant and exposed				
in candlelight, this hermit praying					
Break me like bread. Take me						
the gnarled scars, flesh lumped like redwood burl.			

Death is feeding elsewhere tonight					
Curses will pour back into mouths.					
The white flurry of spring sweeps in					
just as a rust-red shadow slides across the moon			
leveling the ground again						
breaking down the blood-clotted					
and a lone naked root is searching for soil.				

In the staggering universe						
you could crack the sky like lightning					
each moment plump and separate as a raindrop			
a thousand torch songs crying out, an exaltation of larks		
drenched in rapture, the angel glistening.				

Two years of hiding, so calm, so dignified, so just.			
We don’t speak. We just wait, alive together.			
What the story doesn’t tell is how to go on,				
what a swan becomes.


All lines borrowed from poems by Ellen Bass. 

Nancy Himel spent 30 years teaching high school English in the hood near Los Angeles before she retired in August, 2019. Prairie Schooner published one of her poems in 2007, and now that she is a full-time poet, she is hoping more of her work will be published soon. She lives in Tucson, Arizona where she is working on a memoir-in-verse, tentatively titled From Ruach’s Cradle.

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