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Our high school principal wagged his finger
over two manila folders
lying on his desk, labeled with our names—
my boyfriend and me—
called to his office for skipping school.

The day before, we ditched Latin and world history
to chase shadows of clouds on a motorcycle.
We roared down empty rural roads
through the Missouri River bottoms beyond town,
wind messing with the hair on our heads
emptied of review tests and future plans.

We stopped on a dirt road to hear
a meadowlark’s skittish song and smell
heart-break blossom of wild plum.
Beyond leaning fence posts and barbwire,
a tractor drew straight lines across the field
unfurling its cape of blackbirds.

Now forty years after that geography lesson
in spring, I remember the principal’s words,
how right he was in saying:
This will be part
of your permanent record.



Grown-ups’ laughter
sounds like gravel
thrown down
from the cabin’s deck.

The girl on the dock
wants nothing to do
with games of cards
and amber beer.
She will never care
for coffee, never ask
a person in love
with fireflies,
solitude and silence:
What will you be
when you grow up?
Do you have a boyfriend yet?

Someone calls the girl
with a rhythmic rise and fall
like the scream of a hawk.

The thousand names of her lake—
hole in the day, skyflower,
skirt of waves, blue duck—
no one else knows.

Sunlight presses down,
irons sheets of air.

She dangles her hand
in warm shallows
where minnows
—sun spoons, mirror shards—
kiss her skin
with tiny toothless mouths.


Mason Jar of Household Odds and Ends

an orange button
of benign rebellion
off a shirt
gone to rags,

coins from France
before Euros,

a shard of glass
from the lost cabins at Sun Point,

and more.

An outdated drivers’ license
that tells how thin
I used to be.

A gold earring
small as a wedding band
awaits its mate.

Three Phillips-head screws
touch each other’s cold noses.

Some items are in limbo
awaiting a trip
to a desk drawer
or basket:
rubber bands, thumbtacks,
Bobby pins and straight pins
and tops to cheap pens
that ink the lining
of my purse.

I shake the jar to read
an outdated coupon
for pizza delivery,

a message
from a fortune cookie:

a stranger will change
your life,
and an Obama
campaign sticker.

Here are one black bead
like a mink’s eye,
a key to a lock
of an unknown door,
and a lantern unglued
from a figurine
of Diogenes
looking for the honest man
I found.

A dog might be arrested
without its tag.
A wine bottle won’t be corked
to stop the drinker.

This zipper pull
says goodbye to
that pair of pants
dropped on the floor
in the haste
of a wild night.


These poems appear in Earth's Appetite (Nodin Press, 2013)


Margaret Hasse is the author of four collections of poems; the latest is Earth’s Appetite (Nodin Press, 2013). Poems from Earth's Appetite have appeared in Water~Stone, Calyx: A Journal of Art and Literature by Women, Saint Paul Almanac, South Dakota Review, and Where One Voice Ends, Another Begins: 150 Years of Minnesota Poetry, among other publications. Two of her books have been finalists for the Minnesota Book Award in poetry; one was awarded the poetry prize by the Midwest Independent Publishers Association. She's received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and two Loft-McKnight awards.