I watched with envy as my brother swung wired hay from
the business end of the baler by the hook, stacked bales neat and swift on the
pure symmetry, muscle, motion, my summers spent inside a book. Where
does it all go, all that ability, buried desire, unused metaphor, the collective art
that elevates us from all creation?

                                  – Twyla Hansen (“Leap of Faith”)

Apart from piercing space with tiny needles packed with blinking
sensors and paneled instruments, one might hope that same gravity
that ties us here, that holds billions of bugs beneath the tread of thin air,

would keep it all around us—there’s no escape even for our aging flesh
that pauses now to trace a twisting limb in search of grace, a home
to store our yearnings. I can’t remember if she followed me,

towel tied around my neck, off the barn roof into plowed ground,
both believing that if we believed, we could fly. Those grand conspiracies
as children. What evil germ crawled inside my ear, suggested

I cut my sister’s hair smeared with paint and Vaseline before the mirror
where mother harrowed it, pulled forehead and all into a tight and shiny
pony’s tail? That same day I smashed empty Coke bottles on the doorstep,

pulled-up Granddad’s fresh tomato plants—even now, events fade,
sorted-off to single moments to be dematerialized, subatomic dust
into the atmosphere. We must be careful what we breathe and trust

that there is more good than we can see floating out there—raw
material to be received and recreated—so when humanity pauses
to inhale the dawn each morning, it can take a long deep breath.


Twyla Hansen & Linda Hasselstrom have conspired together in a wonderful new book of poetry: Dirt Songs: A Plains Duet from the The Backwaters Press. Review

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