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David Hummon

Imperial Valley, California


On this grey day,

flat as the horizon,

it is the migrant home,

that takes you in —

not the handsome father,

holding his swaddled baby,

or his old coupe, or the wash tub,

or the picking basket, even the boots,

soles up on the bench, suggesting

a body being eaten by the earth

like a Bosch painting. No, it is

the hut: its front like a crazy quilt

stitched together from pieces of

cardboard, fruit boxes, wood crates,

fragments of tar paper . . . so small

only stoop labor could enter,


with that little girl, hugging

the door frame, who 

you finally see in 

the black opening.

After Dorothea Lange (1895-1965), “Mexican Field Worker’s Home,” 1937. Library of Congress: Lange, Mexican Field Worker's Home


I would like to go to Boston to visit the museum.
I could rest under the shade oaks on the Fenway
just as well as in this churchyard.


It seems right to go now. We gave the painting,
my sisters and I, after the First War —
one hundred years ago,


and today is a perfect August day.
I would like to walk the halls to see where it is hung,
and mother’s portrait, too,


to view that foyer, such dramatic light and dark,
the two vases, our adopted Japanese sisters,
and Florence, bless her, leaning against one,


indifferent, lost in shadow, and Jane at her side,
watching young Sargent (he loved his sisters, too).
Dear Mary Louisa, to the left, reticent, attentive,


all of us in our pinafores, not dressed, just there,
together, apart, and little me, with my doll
between my legs, pigeon toed, a bit precious, I admit,

but I was.

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) painted The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit in Paris in 1882. Julia, the youngest and longest-living daughter, died in Newport in 1969.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

David Hummon is a poet, artist, and emeritus professor (Holy Cross College), living in Winchester, Massachusetts. He writes and paints to pay attention to his world . . . and his life. His poetry has been published in The Connecticut River Review, The Naugatuck River Review, The Northern New England Review, The Healing Muse, and The Unitarian Universalist World.

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