Poem of the Week, by Margaret Hasse

Steuben, looking northOld friend, it has been decades since that last summer before college, the last time I ever lived at home. But when I return to visit my parents and drive by the street where you once lived, I remember you. I remember rain on a canvas roof, darkness all around, the silent sleeping breath of other friends. I remember how surprised I was that someone wanted to kiss me –me?–and I remember your gentleness. Let me tell you now that you were the one who first showed me how touch could open up a new world. At seventeen I could not have known how the memory of that fleeting sweetness would sustain me in future dark times. This achingly beautiful poem brought back the memory of you.   

 

High School Boyfriend, by Margaret Hasse

You are hometown.
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 Vietnam
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 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.

 

 

For more information on Margaret Hasse, please click here.

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