Poems from Milk and Tides by Margaret Hasse
Milk from Chickens
The day my son declared with hammerhead certainty
that milk comes from chickens was the day
I yanked him out of the city
and drove west to farm and prairie land.
Like a nail pried from hard wood, he complained
from the backseat, missing electronic games and TV.
Near the South Dakota border, he saluted
a MacDonald’s as we flew by.
In my country, always summer,
it is never too late to find freedom,
to open a screen door to an entire day spent outside,
not missing anything.
I wanted my boy to take a turn lifting barb wire
to slip under and into open fields
keeping an eagle eye out for the crazy bull.
I wanted him to hold a bottle for a lamb
to feel the fierceness of animal hunger,
the suck of an animal mouth.
He needed to sleep out in nights encoded
with urgent messages of fireflies,
to see the bright planets in alignment overhead,
to stand on the graves of his grandparents,
dead so many years before he was born,
and to trace the names etched on granite pillows,
hard as the last sleep.
How else to plant in him the long root of prairie grass,
help him reach water in drought,
know who his family is?
© Margaret Hasse
Milk and Tides, Nodin Press, 2008