- The Hum
It’s not a question without the mark: How do we livewith trust in a world that will continue
to betray us. Hear my voice not lift at the end. How do we trustwhen we continue to be betrayed.
For the first time I doubt we’ll find our way back. But howcan we not. See how the terminal
mark allows a question to dress as statement and vice versa.Sometimes if I am quiet and still,
I can hear a small hum inside me, an appliance left running.Years ago I thought it was coming
from my bones. The hum kept me company, and I thoughtthank god for bones, for the fidelity
of bones—they’ll be there until the end and then some.Now what. How to continue.
I’ve started calling the hum the soul. Today I have to holdmy breath to hear it. What question
does it keep not asking and not asking, never changingits pitch. How do I answer. [End Page 181]
Maggie Smith is the author of three prizewinning books: Lamp of the Body (Red Hen Press, 2005), The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison (Tupelo Press, 2015), and Good Bones (Tupelo Press, 2017), the title poem from which was called the “Official Poem of 2016” by Public Radio International. Her poems and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Tin House, the Believer, Paris Review, Ploughshares, Best American Poetry, the Washington Post, and on the CBS primetime drama Madam Secretary.