Naming What Isn’t

by 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.

Lana AustinLana Austin was a finalist for the 2015 James Wright Poetry Award.  Her work has recently been featured in or is forthcoming from Mid-American Review, The Writer’s Chronicle, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, Southern Women’s Review, among others. Her first poetry chapbook, In Search of the Wild Dulcimer, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Austin has received multiple poetry awards & scholarships from Hollins University, The University of Mary Washington & American University & has an MFA from George Mason University. Born & raised in Kentucky, she has lived in England & Italy but currently resides in Alabama with her husband & three children. An adjunct writing instructor, she teaches multiple writing courses & is about to begin directing the first Opera In the Schools program in Huntsville in 2016, culminating in original operas being written & performed by area students.