Naming What Isn't

Lana Austin

What has flown away?

             Is it a quick moment of air,

                           once thin and crisp,

the hummingbird beats

             into nothing

                          with his rapid wings?

Or is it something

             languid, to vanish

                           so slowly you are

never aware

             of its slipping,

                           mountains eroding

over thousands of years?

             Or is it something,

                           just as my grandmother

said, not to be spoken

             of ever again—

                           the world’s unwording,

lost beyond time’s


This paradox

              is everything which isn’t,

                           like when I die

and someone performs

             an autopsy they’ll find

                           nothing unknown to them,

yet something missing. There

                           they bear witness to a hymn,

                                        a hallowed center.