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  • Writer's pictureHannah Hinsch

Second Abundance

After 2 Corinthians 12

A pelt of black berries hardens

on the gnarled

underside of branch, stored up.

On the beach path,

the maple holds rare light in salt cool—

oil distilled from the crush.

A birch, a white birch, a weeping

birch, startles me, its branches

like incense unfurled, through bare air, with gold and clove —as though

a thurible had been flung

burned and fragrant still.

I pick up a shell

for its inner blue—by chance I

hold it to a certain light,

and what had once been

a slender membrane where the body

held together is now rent, dried

where it was once tender; is now limned in gold

rare and profligate

for its raw and hidden hurt,

the other half

clean gone.

A bride waits all night in cold.

A leaf stores up oil:

a word like a candle watched over,

transfused through a lamp’s puckered spout

readied for the weight of the vow, a live coal

pressed to the closed mouth.

Only when it is broken

can it be given, like this,

full of light as it falls.

He falls on his face to wine-dark ground.

Olive trees press around him, distilled

as sweat and blood, as vinegar

through maple light in Indian Summer.

To Timothy, Paul writes, his execution

near in Rome—fan the flame.

And this expenditure is daily and apparent:

a wave of health that fails like body

or like word, an exhalation over a dying ember,

a wineskin over lips parched and torn;

a tide so gloriously spent

for having burned.

A drink offering,

He will spend and be spent for us.

It is noble as that:

we are inflamed and insufficient as this

to know light more—

held inner, in salt tears, water,

indwelling and entire,

becomes after much heaving, a final gasp, more—

the cup taken and given, entrusted

to the sudden taste of salt and iron.

Maybe we are the flesh of leaf in this limned shatter—

though the vital skin withers and the cell is held closed, puckered as salt;

though water hardly passes through, the sugar

no longer a sweet descent to root (though this is still

intact and crowned, woven with light’s dark food);

though the body fails, the edges

inflamed then going, torn, gone, poured out like wax slipped clean of wick to be poured, new, into what it has been before—

we fall in rarest color, purple as sumac, a second abundance

suffused as strength and wind through the weakened frame of us.

So it is that we receive

of that undying light


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