Poetry: “Sky Burial” by Summer J. Hart

In my dream about water, I hover over a starless nothing, refusing to go in. Refusing to let tomorrow turn out like today. Sky broke. White plate. Picking porcelain out of the carpet.

The phone rings. Rain churns the southwest corner of the basement into mud. In my dream about water, the waves swallow the bench I’m sitting on. I’m small as krill. The whale’s esophagus is soft & clear, so there’s no consequence to my being here. I collect the sunken things: faded pink goggles, bottlecaps, a wedding ring.


When the bird


six diamond-


Time is shifting. Shifts. Has shifted. Time is only. A difference. Of. Degree. Time moves differently here, like, when we were younger. These days we just watch each other’s faces fall, Matt laments of middle age in these days of Zooming. I face backwards on the train. Hill, river, town give way to hill, river, town. Plastic-wrapped boats & light posts. There’s a tint of ochre on the water. Rippling. Steel stretched elastic at the bridge. Embankment. Gulls cruise over the breakwater.

When I die, my mother instructs as I order her a Dunkin’ decaf with almond milk, don’t put me in the ground. I won’t go in a bean pot like Sharon & Dick. No cedar clippings, silk carnations. No Memorial Day set piece. No vertically planted mushroom-impregnated muslin, worms working through. Fragments of bone, cracked like oyster shells in the garden. Take me up the mountain.

Why do you want to go up that goddamned rock?

Just let the wind have me.


At the summit,
ravens put on
an airshow

I peel an
orange, stuff
the rind
in the pocket
of my wind-

Did you know
they can fly
for a mile
upside down?

The writer

recognize me
later that night
in the dining

all cleaned
up I laugh

when she tells
me her name
again it’s

burger night


The lapsed poet forgets to tend the Oracle’s basket because her mother’s been correcting her dreams again. Glass of whiskey. Glass of wine. Leather couch. Red ink. Crossed the dream right out.

I had this one too. It goes like this: I feel how hungry you are to be loved, croons the woman to the wall.

No one else sees the piebald turkey. The meadow is ringed with mist & deer & when we walk into it, we’re sure we disappear. I watch a porcupine climb a tree. The lapsed poet tells me about a burial tower that’s so sacred, planes must circumvent the airspace above it. How high? I ask. All the way up to heaven. I send her an article about a woman who weds a 300-year-old pirate ghost. On a ship somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic, bridesmaids are vomiting everywhere. The captain sings: Love is dead. Love is dead. Love is dead.


I lose a gold earring in the gold leaves. I go running again. I go running again. I see another porcupine on my walk to the library & think about Bridget’s beadwork. It’s very bad luck to kill a porcupine. When she sees one, she pulls the car over. My cousin jumps out. He’s wearing the purple mittens Pixie knitted for him. Headlights cut through fog & tire spray; wipers keep a steady pulse. He spreads his raincoat over the body & steps until the quills release.

Summer J. Hart is an interdisciplinary artist from Maine, living in the Hudson Valley, New York. Her written and visual artworks are influenced by folklore, superstition, divination, and forgotten territories reclaimed by nature. She is the author of the full-length poetry collection, Boomhouse (The 3rd Thing Press, 2023) and the micro-chapbook, Augury of Ash (Post Ghost Press). She is the recipient of a 2022 MacDowell Fellowship. Her poetry can be found in Waxwing, The Massachusetts Review, Northern New England Review, Denver Quarterly, and elsewhere. Summer is a member of the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation.

Photo credit: Jessica Hallock

Check out HFR’s book catalog, publicity list, submission manager, and buy merch from our Spring store. Follow us on Instagram and YouTube. Disclosure: HFR is an affiliate of Bookshop.org and we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Sales from Bookshop.org help support independent bookstores and small presses.

Comments (