Michael Hager lives in Minneapolis Minnesota. He has a degree
in the creative arts and is between jobs most of the time. His
just finished first book, a collection of twenty loosely thematic
poems called The Hairpin Girl, is not yet published. He also has
a poem in issue 63-64 of the Minnesota Review.

The Hairpin Girl

The city turns back on itself;
shakes its few leaves.
Deep autumn exhales a sharp arc along the curb
--no traffic at four in the morning.
Even light hibernates in the syllables of Minneapolis.

What odor is this on the corner of a sigh?
Girl, your body turns from me,
and there is a loneliness in the vowels of November
I have not learned to pull from my voice
--I cannot write your name
--I cannot speak your face
and there is no laughter in the distance
where you streets should lead.

Girl, I have turned back on myself,
taken up this armful of leaves,
and lodged them into the mouth of this city.
What light did you find in that other place?
What light can you give me?
I throw myself against the curb of your silence.
Hold out your hand one last time.
Let the winter of your eyes find me.

The Gathering

At sunrise, a rail whistle rides the amber arc of
a city southward. I am two hours awake--twenty-seven
years and some months alive. It is autumn. Light drags
a hand across the alleyway. Leaves brush into one
another and continue to fall. A voice tests the wall,
draws back to a womb of clipped willows; this room
whom the new sky pales for beyond the sill.


I have marked a path in sand by the ocean,
and have known the sea-spray
and long winds,
and I have bared down the sun of that sunset
--the trudge and blunder of breaking waves;
the white crown of salt on each one.
And I have seen the receding waters of low tide,
and the shells it leaves behind,
pinched and broken in the beaks of gulls
--the empty place that once held life.

To think that you were not born in the first place,
that you left no shell to find
before the tide fell back
and cleansed my steps
as though I had not passed.
You move through me like a whisper.
I begin to wake.
You are the lost fawn from a dream.
You are the hand I move to find in the dark.

A Poem Written In Autumn

--a chime near lilacs
where night is a yard of dropped blossoms.
Once before,
your touch softened a frown of black wind;
your arms, like mist,
lowering to thaw these ponds
as your song of gray water fled into me.

Then, vermilion leveled a canvas,
and the horizon spilled over with it.
In the slow shade of a glacier,
hours etched away to become valleys
and the first sound entered as a trickling of stone.

Next came grass
--shoots of jade splitting the season wide.
Afternoon swooned into the blade of evening,
and along the banks of a quickening river
I shouldered the wound forward,
like a petal,
on the very last of too many branches.
It was a weight I could not bring myself to carry

Now you stumble toward the ease of low ground,
and what is left of the moon this night
cries out.
It knows my shores could not hold you.
It knows I hunt the silt from that torrent still.

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