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Poems from Stars Above, Stars Below by Margaret Hasse

High School Boyfriend


You are home town.


You are all my favorite places


the last summer I grew up.


Every once in a while


I write you


in my head


to ask how Viet Nam


and a big name college


came between us.


We tried to stay in touch


through the long distance,


the hum and fleck of phone calls.


It was inevitable


that I should return


to the small prairie town


and find you


pumping gas, driving a truck, measuring lumber,


and we’d exchange weather talk,


never be able to break through words


and time to say simply:


Are you as happy 


as I wanted you to be?


And still I am stirred


by musky cigarette smoke


on a man’s brown suede jacket.


Never having admitted the tenderness


of your hands, I feel them now


through my skin.


Parking on breezy nights,


in cars, floating passageways,


we are tongue and tongue like warm cucumbers.


I would walk backwards 


along far country roads


through late evenings, cool as moving water,


heavy as red beer,


to climb into that August.


In the dark lovers’ lanes,


you touched my face


and found me here.


        © Margaret Hasse


        Stars Above, Stars Below, New Rivers Press, 1984


My Mother’s Lullaby


When my mother


smelling of milk and bread


brushes the long robe of my hair,


the vines spring roses.


We wake in a white bed


floating with feather pillows.


Morning patterns her face.


She curls me in her arms;


she is a seashell,


pale and full of song.


And now I come to tuck


my little mother into bed.


I am too young to be empty-armed


and the weeds in my throat


will not let me sing lullabies.


Waiting has teeth in it.


My mother smiles at me


and wraps around herself.


I won’t see her cry;


her wheat body does not even shake.


She will not know


how echoes return.


Silent tears are turquoise


peacock feathers which tickle


and the hyena in me laughs,


crazy, crazy.


And my mother


on her thin shelved bed


hears the dogs move restlessly.


There is a clack of their nails


on linoleum.


She knows they have come for her,


She whimpers, they whimper.


Soon there will be no one


to tell what I was like


when I was a child.


        © Margaret Hasse


        Stars Above, Stars Below, New Rivers Press, 1984