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  • Twelve red seeds, and: Long hospital, and: White houses, and: What to say, and: Changeling
  • Maria Hummel (bio)
  • Twelve red seeds
  • Maria Hummel (bio)

Twelve red stainson the sidewalk. Twelve sunsat the edge of a picture,each colored the wrong bright shade.

Something will come to lick them up:the earthworm dying on its wayto the garden, a sluggishskunk, the soapy brush of a mother

who does not want her son to askwhose or why. Briefly, she wondersif the blood is hers.She has a hole in her side

she probes when no one is lookingto feel if it still pains her. It does. It willnot heal. It will not kill her.Her boy is beautiful and ill.

She can no longer see the dayswhen she washed his bodyand thought it perfect, gossamer,blue-threaded,

his small fist closingaround the root of her fingerin an unbreakable ring.Yet she wants to teach him

so many things: Look at these Osblurred to blots, these tearsof the sad, red giant!Look at these stars, starry nights, star pins, starfish. [End Page 172]

Maria Hummel

"While I was pregnant with my son, I became fascinated with the myth of the changeling: the baby who gets replaced by a fairy child. Like all myths, the changeling exists to acknowledge some dark fear, perhaps that your healthy infant will suddenly fall ill or perhaps something even more primal—that you can never fully control what happens to your children.

"At eight months old, my son contracted a chronic gastrointestinal illness that causes thousands of ulcers throughout his digestive tract. By then I had already written 'Changeling,' 'What to say' and 'White houses.' Somehow my subconscious had begun brewing on the issues that would shape our lives together. Blood transfusions, dozens of medications and months on the pediatric ward led to 'Long hospital' and 'Twelve red seeds,' each of them, in their own way, exploring how mythmaking originates with human suffering."

Maria Hummel is the author of the novel Wilderness Run (St. Martin's, 2002) and recent poetry, fiction and nonfiction in Poetry, New England Review, the Iowa Review, Creative Nonfiction and elsewhere. For many years she worked as the writer/editor at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and she is now a Jones Lecturer in poetry at Stanford University. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and son.

  • Long hospital
  • Maria Hummel (bio)

We are finally quiet now,my baby son beside me,the machines slipping their spitinto his veins.

Rain splashes the window.The doctors flash and vanish.His crib foams over with toys.He has nowhere else to playand I take them out when he sleeps.

I hear a distant moan,the nurses' feetrushing, then stutteringbefore they reach a door.

Who wants to open a worldin on itself: the sweat, the brick, the body,the same white bed emptyand filling, empty and filling?

I don't envy the nurses their jobs;they avert their faces from mine:

smiling at this small, limp boy,lifting a rattle for him,setting it down,turning the pages of a book for him,saying Where's the baby? show me the baby. [End Page 173]

Maria Hummel

"While I was pregnant with my son, I became fascinated with the myth of the changeling: the baby who gets replaced by a fairy child. Like all myths, the changeling exists to acknowledge some dark fear, perhaps that your healthy infant will suddenly fall ill or perhaps something even more primal—that you can never fully control what happens to your children.

"At eight months old, my son contracted a chronic gastrointestinal illness that causes thousands of ulcers throughout his digestive tract. By then I had already written 'Changeling,' 'What to say' and 'White houses.' Somehow my subconscious had begun brewing on the issues that would shape our lives together. Blood transfusions, dozens of medications and months on the pediatric ward led to 'Long hospital' and 'Twelve red seeds,' each of them, in their own way, exploring how mythmaking originates with human suffering."

Maria Hummel is the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 171-176
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-21
Open Access
No
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