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