Monday, December 08, 2014

Truant by Margaret Hasse

Another really special poem. 

Introduction by Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate:  For every one of those faces pictured on the obituary page, thousands of memories have been swept out of the world, never to be recovered. I encourage everyone to write down their memories before it’s too late. Here’s a fine example of that by Margaret Hasse, who lives in Minnesota.


Our high school principal wagged his finger
over two manila folders
lying on his desk, labeled with our names—
my boyfriend and me—
called to his office for skipping school.

The day before, we ditched Latin and world history
to chase shadows of clouds on a motorcycle.
We roared down rolling asphalt roads
through the Missouri River bottoms
beyond town, our heads emptied
of review tests and future plans.

We stopped on a dirt lane to hear
a meadowlark’s liquid song, smell
heart-break blossom of wild plum.
Beyond leaning fence posts and barbwire,
a tractor drew straight lines across the field
unfurling its cape of blackbirds.

Now forty years after that geography lesson
in spring, I remember the principal’s words.
How right he was in saying:
This will be part of
your permanent record.
American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Introduction copyright © 2014 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.


The Idaho Beauty said...

Oh, that really is a fine poem. It reminded me of my own daring and secret travels with certain young men at that age. The two that come to mind did not end as lovely as this one (his truck getting stuck trying to cross a riverbed,the other his motorcycle running out of gas a long way up a seldom traveled road), but I must admit, they definitely did become part of my permanent record.

I have lots of journals covering many years that probably have some of these stories within their pages but you are right. Not only do I hold information that will go with me, but I am starting to forget the details of some of them while I still live. Am spending quite a bit of time conversing with brothers about childhood memories, knowing I need to write these down. Thanks for the reminder.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

I like this one, too, Cheryl.