Literature 4-24-2006

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Margaret Hasse

Margaret Hasse is the fourth poet chosen in this once-a-week yearlong survey of Minnesota’s poets and their work. The series is sponsored by Magers & Quinn Booksellers. Don't miss the reading by What Light poets at Magers and Quinn April 30!

Margaret Hasse


Dusk doesn’t; dawn does.
Mornings, all that new splendor,
over and over and over again.

Newspapers don’t, with their harpy human
interest stories. But coffee, ahh coffee
in a plain white mug…

Graves save me,
those in little cemeteries come across
driving in the country, on a hill, with a view.
It’s good to think of spirits
having an eye for nature.

Sleep and dreams do, the ones remembered, even
dreams about people chasing because
that suspicion, that anxiety is given its
own body to run away with.

Some books do and almost
every poem catches me
happily hooked and cast free at the same time.

Though what saves mostly
comes right out of the blue,
what can’t be made or forced
or even asked of life:
a sudden glimpse from a bus
in crowded New York City, a
Lakota woman walking in a jingle dress.
Or with a finger in an atlas
seeking a town on the west coast of Mexico
suddenly finds a memory of cafe con leche

sipped with a man you loved
a quarter century ago.
Memory saves me, especially random memory that claims
its own borders, its own orders, makes its own metaphor.

Going to work and coming back saves me.
On the Lake Street Bridge, span of the Mississippi
a man’s doing work for us all,
waving his hand and his placard
“Support our troops – bring them home.”
Honk in solidarity.

Dinner at home last night saved me,
as I sunk into a chair at a table
exhausted with meetings and money-making,
where all the food was prepared
by my husband: the pork chops with basil,
garlic pulp aroma, green green beans and a candle.
Dave saying: I’ll rub your feet
after dinner if you will just lie down
and put them in my lap.

The sight of my sons saves me
even when they show me their backs.
Today that darkest month,
here in Saint Paul,
it’s really cold, down
in the temperature teens.
My real life teen heads off
to Central High School
at 7 AM this morning,
coatless, gloveless, hatless,
with his thick dreadlocks
all powdered with snow.

Margaret Hasse is a poet, teacher, and independent consultant . Originally from South Dakota, Margaret moved to Minnesota in 1973 after graduating from Stanford University. She gained an M.A. in English from the University of Minnesota. For more than 15 years, she was involved as a teaching poet with programs such as Arts & Corrections, COMPAS Writers in the Schools, and The Loft.

Her publications include Stars Above, Stars Below (New Rivers Press) and In a Sheep’s Eye, Darling (Milkweed Editions).


Margaret Hasse is author of five collections of poems including her latest, Between Us. Hasse is winner of several Minnesota State Arts Board grants, Loft-McKnight Awards, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She has an M.A., University of Minnesota, English and creative writing B.A., Stanford University, English and creative writing. …   read more