From the nectar I have forged, the hummingbird
is drawn to drink.
1. Countries away, a man stands at the edge
of a field with a lit match. He touches
the flame to a leaf green as the ocean just beyond
it. Soon, the sky will cradle thick smoke
in its wide arms. The man will pick ash
from each bite of beans he lifts to his mouth.
He will doze as the dry fronds, dead
from the sugary heart’s neglect, burn quickly
away. There is no smell more crucial
to him than that of cane on the verge of scorched.
2. All night long, a knife is wielded against
a rod. Sweat breaks out along every bit
of skin, beading like crystals on the brow. Chopped
fine as the gravel that forms the treacherous
road he travels home each morning, the fibrous pulp
oozes a sweet syrup his daughters will clamor
to lick from his rough fingers, the sun shimmering
on their dark, sleep-matted hair.
3. Etched by the blades of a thousand
thick paper bags, the tips of her fingers feel
like the belly of a red snapper. Her long braid swings
like a pendulum keeping time as she sways
back and forth, shifting her weight to please her swollen
feet. She knows this rocking well, eight babies, now
grown, do too. Deep into a lifetime of nights, she sang a song
that spoke of dulzura envuelto, the meaning lost somehow to this.
And the water —
1. mixed with the broken back
story of sugar I pour into the feeder — it’s the only
prayer I can utter. gratitude for myself
relief for them and for all of us: redemption,
Amy Woschek Schmidt’s work has been published or is forthcoming in The Florida Review, Ruminate, Camroc Press Review, and Calyx, among other journals. She has been a finalist for the Janet McCabe Poetry Prize and is the recipient of an Arrowhead Regional Arts Grant. She homesteads in northern Minnesota, where snow is a given and sun is a gift; she lives there with her husband, daughter, and bloodhound.