Share37 Finalist : Terrain.org 10th Annual Contest in Poetry https://www.terrain.org/mp3/2020/jan/Hummel-Highway19.mp3 On Highway 19 at County Road 515, Where James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner Were Executed So much green against green. All that can go on out here, can and will, and will go unwitnessed. No one’s watching nothing. What are you gonna do? After midlife. After illness, after divorce. After getting schooled in loving a decent bourbon, a waning crescent moon of orange rind and one fine cherry. After nights dressed in Coltrane’s Naima After coming to your knees. Maybe then you might learn. The devil as shapeshifter: a shiver of snakeskin, bristling boar-haunch, kudzu swarm. The sheriff’s badge, the alligator boots. Cattle prod. Barbed wire wrapped baton. Brass knuckles. Attack dog. Rope. Gasoline soaked torch. Shot gun. God, please. There are so many ways this could go. It’s a drive you might take. Have taken. Will take. Your lover—the one you ached for more nights than you thought possible— he’s here. So is your sweet boy. And your brother, your brother who knows every bit of ugly about you and shows up anyway. No half-stepping, no maybes about it: Mississippi exists in all of us. What have you done? What are you going to do? You’ll pray so hard you beg. https://www.terrain.org/mp3/2020/jan/Hummel-Walk.mp3 Walk of Shame: A Corrigendum I needed diamond point, smooth-shanked sinkers. A cross-cut blade with plenty of teeth. Four hundred pounds of concrete. I already owned your basic ash-handled claw hammer, already knew how to level the wood. I learned quick to change my cashmere sweater before entering the hardware store. I refused to watch everyone watch. My daughter and I have a never-ending conversation about what is real or not. Dolphins are real, mermaids are not. Narwhals are real, unicorns are not. Bad guys are real, monsters are not. What about ghosts? Are they alive, but in a different place? she asks. That’s one theory, I say. Summer is real, even though sometimes it feels like it is not. It’s possible I forgot what I wanted, all I wanted. For how long? Who knows. Before I was twenty, I learned to obey necessity. I kept a cigar box full of tip money, paid bills, balanced the checkbook to the penny, ate little. Later, I balanced everything: the bills, the husband, the baby. Our pain was electric. It was as domestic as a bedbug. What all did I forget? How quiet a house can be, how simple a dinner. How a body eases into a bath, or a bed, or a kiss. The hardest thing might be staying tender. I wanted summer, the whole jesus, please of it. I wanted the slow thick light of evening coming low down the street. The planks of a picnic table under my back and stars coming through feathered treetops. Strawberries tasting of soil. A treehouse where my daughter could do whatever she wanted. For a long time, a polar bear lived in our kitchen cupboard. He was feisty, grouchy, stinky. He ate apples, took long naps, roared at the cat, snored through dinner. Even when she wasn’t there, I too heard him sigh. Then, one day she asked where he’d gone. I didn’t know. He was just gone. How does something invisible vanish? I hadn’t worn a ring in two years when I started to sing through 2x4s with a circular saw. I built the treehouse, picnic table, bed, the house around us— and I knew, exactly, the heft and weight and rise of all I wanted. H.K. Hummel is the author of Lessons in Breathing Underwater (Sundress Publications, 2020) and the co-author of Short-Form Creative Writing: A Writer’s Guide and Anthology (Bloomsbury, 2018). She is an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and one of the founding editors of Blood Orange Review. Header photo by Volodja1984, courtesy Shutterstock. Photo of H.K. Hummel by Nancy Hightower.