As an adult, there really has been one physical building that I’ve truly called my own. When I moved to Colorado after graduate school, I wanted to live up in the mountains. I literally had one house showing, and I knew I was home. The cabin was a mess for a lot of reasons. I dealt with skunks and foxes fighting underneath the house, it literally looked like it might just sort of get crushed by anything, there was always some concern that while I was away at work, the black bears that hung out on the stone patio-like area near my side door, would realize the door was no match for them and bust through it to destroy everything. Nights were spend listening to rabbits scream as hawks took them out one by one. Spring was met by a mountain lion in heat crying louder than a baby. The whole commotion of it all once almost sent a visiting friend into tears. She had to spend the whole night sleeping in my bedroom. Still, other friends came and spa water was served with my cute ice cubes and pies were baked (always the banana cream for Karen). One afternoon, snowed in, we sat reading poetry to each other and drinking spa water, while banging on the old upright piano and strumming the banjo. There were many nights after I had left a relationship, which brought me to CO, and after my grandma died, where I would get up in the middle of the night and bake pies because it felt healing in some ways to watch the animals at night and work through dough and crust. It’s amazing the things I did there. I did my laundry on a washboard and let it out to dry, near the tree in the back where the deer would often just sleep in the afternoon. To some, it might have been a hell hole, but I did my best to fix it up and make it my own. During that time, I wrote a series of poems I called the “Young Hollow,” poems. “Young Hollow,” was a town I passed daily on the way to work. There was an off ramp exit but no return on ramp exit. I had a lot of imaginings about what a town named “Young Hollow,” could be like. I also identified with the name. I was sort of this young age that was becoming hollow. I. was also a young individual at the time hollowed out by grief for the first time in my life really and fighting to recovery from anorexia, which had plagued me for quite a few years. There was a lot of ‘hollow,’ inside of me. Then, I woke up to work out in the morning, so I did a lot of writing on weekends and in the evening. It was the first time, I was adamant that everything I wrote in that collection of poems be written at the cabin. I felt the atmosphere there definitely had the power to transform the poems. Many of the poems I wrote during that period had a unique style and voice, I have never quite captured again. There are very few poems that I remember the specific day/night that I wrote them because (as I posted earlier), once I’ve written something, I don’t look at it for six months. This poem was no exception. I remember there was a poem I was working on before I wrote this poem. It was literally a verse and I loved the verse; however, to this day it sits in a notebook and I’ve never found a place for it. I needed a break. I remember looking out the window and thinking about the hummingbirds that used to come to my grandmother, who had just passed away’s finch feeder, and how excited they used to make us. I don’t remember where the nun part came from. I started writing this poem about a relationship between the two. It just came very quick and easy. A few years later, I sent out about ten poems to various individuals I respected for different reasons because I was contemplating doing a project like this and wanted to know their favorite poem. I included several poems that I thought were ‘different,’ even including quite a few that I was not significantly fond of to some that were favorites. This poem was a throw in. I really had not had much feeling toward it either way. The funny thing is, it’s rare for people to choose the same poem as a favorite. Also, lines I felt were sort of ‘throw away lines,’ were people’s favorites. The poems were ranked quite differently by people with one exception, everyone had this poem at the top of their list. Even a few people admitted they weren’t quite sure why, but it just made them feel something. Poems are not stories and the magic of them is exactly that, they are meant to sort of capture a feeling, often that brings with it some feeling of ‘I’m not quite sure I know what this is about,’ but like all good art, it invokes a feeling that is left to be interpreted to the reader. The feeling is what they walk away with. So, today I share this poem with you and hope you also might walk away with your own interpretation or feeling.
The Hummingbird And the Nun
When their life together began it was if it they were a hummingbird and
And there were days of water and days of drought
And cold rain from the far north
That kept them in bed
And made the jazz feel good.
And not just saxophones but music
Reaching for a friend
Or a cigarette that barely listens
But somehow finds that quiet God
We're all searching for
He'd wrap his red coat around her
When she was cold
Geese honking overhead
The mixing of wood smoke, fire, and the sexy
Breath of autumn posing as it left their bodies
Into the chilled night.
It happens, nuns take baths in lilac water
And hummingbirds fly into the windows of total strangers
And become more cautious of their speedy wings
The hem of acceptance raises and no longer dusts the floor
When they dance,
But the seasons always come back to colder nights
And the jazz deepens with the eyes
And the hummingbird gets holier
And the nun gets her wings and flies
And the police say
The only culprit in the murder
And a whole lot of holy wine.