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The First Turn Might Be the Right One Home

From: New England Review
Volume 34, Number 1, 2013
pp. 8-9 | 10.1353/ner.2013.0035

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On a strange road, the first turn you see
might be the right one home,
as at a party, the first man you meet
might be the one worth noticing.
That is, if you’re lost looking
for a man, or a road, don’t let your hands tighten
and move too soon. Turn even once,
you can’t go back: Think about the first time
you were ever asked to dance.
Then think about the last.
The first turn in a pool is to the deep
end. The first turn to religion is,
like the first kiss, most uncertain and holiest;
the first house you own with someone else
is loneliest at night when he is gone.
The man and you make
a child, and it changes you together,
as when a sunstruck window
sways all the plants in a room
the same direction toward the light.
Clocks turn to tell time, so you believe
the hours pass by instead of spinning you
inside them. Day turns to night
like paper to a love letter, until the ink
spills all across the sky. The child
turns a lamp on and off, on! off!
he delights in power, and does not see
how it will alter him. To turn into is
to become; turn up, to arrive; turn away,
to go deliberately blind—but you don’t
turn older. You grow its complexion:
you can’t remember another Italy
than the one you visited at twenty,
or how you used to pray. The child turns
the faucet on and lets the silver
rush his palm. His father is turning
pages in a magazine, and looking up from time to time
to see the bath swell and deepen. Years ago,
he turned to watch you walk in your cotton dress.
The water brims. The naked child
turns pink, then fish inside it. Your wishes
have become so simple
and tender: Let us have this love.
A ring is made of turns, but you can’t take them.
You only let them grip a single finger.

Maria Hummel  

Maria Hummel is the author of House and Fire, winner of the 2012 American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize, and the novel Motherland, forthcoming from Counterpoint in 2014. Her poems and prose have appeared in Poetry, Narrative, Pushcart Prize XXXVI, and The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of Poetry Magazine.

Copyright © 2013 Middlebury College Publications
Project MUSE® - View Citation
Maria Hummel. "The First Turn Might Be the Right One Home." New England Review 34.1 (2013): 8-9. Project MUSE. Web. 8 Jul. 2013. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.
Hummel, M.(2013). The First Turn Might Be the Right One Home. New England Review 34(1), 8-9. Middlebury College. Retrieved July 8, 2013, from Project MUSE database.
Maria Hummel. "The First Turn Might Be the Right One Home." New England Review 34, no. 1 (2013): 8-9. http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed July 8, 2013).
T1 - The First Turn Might Be the Right One Home
A1 - Maria Hummel
JF - New England Review
VL - 34
IS - 1
SP - 8
EP - 9
PY - 2013
PB - Middlebury College
SN - 2161-9131
UR - http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/new_england_review/v034/34.1.hummel.html
N1 - Volume 34, Number 1, 2013
ER -


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