Christine Holland Cummings

Christine Holland Cummings

A poet, herbalist, and garden-tender, Christine’s poems meditate on our connections to each other and to the more-than-human world. Her poems have appeared or are upcoming in: Iron Horse Literary Review, Blueline, Manzanita Quarterly, Hamilton Stone Review, Reckoning, a journal of creative writing on environmental justice, Dark Matter: Women Witnessing, The Sand Hill Review, Downtown San Jose Magazine, and, in collaboration with David Cummings, in the online Writers Resist publication founded immediately after Trump was elected president. Her work has been anthologized in: Blue Arc West: An Anthology of California Poets, from Tebot Bach Press and Our Last Walk:  Using Poetry for Grieving and Remembering our Pets, from University Professors Press. The poem “The Koi at the Gaylord Palms Resort” won the Pennsylvania Poetry Society Charles Ferguson Award for an environmental poem. Christine has an MFA in poetry from Bennington College.

What They Ate: Mission San Jose, 1800

After the Padres came and built their mud houses
where they said, Dios vive, the people ate
God’s body, a flat white thing with no flavor,
and more: they learned to grow wheat for bread,

tend cattle and sheep, eat tame fruit picked from trees
planted where oaks had dropped acorns.
Livestock foraged the hills and meadows,
elk and deer grew lean on small rations, or fled.

Rivers that had always gone their own way
were directed into ditches and ponds, sent
in channels to fields of strange new grasses.
The people used to choose their path

like water; now they hauled boulders,
un trabajo pesado, and cleared canals of silt.
After such hard labor, the Padres promised,
they would rest in El Cielo, where no one

goes hungry, no one works, and El Señor
would give back all they had lost.
When they sickened and died in great numbers,
they were glad at least that once again

they would eat salmon and horn snails,
wild buckwheat and fennel, mussels
and blackberries, fiddleneck shoots,
the sweet oily acorn, baked on hot stones.

Postcard from the Boundary Waters

Afterstorm canoeing in the calm Lakewaters
mirror shoreline treeline skyglow
The oars dip and push A clutch of beavers
crosses Heads carve the silvered surface as if
no lung or muscle worked beneath Cherryripe sun
descends blushes cumulous    We lay
the paddles on our knees   feel what part of it
we may   in beauty walk Now these words
small     an echo           or a call