Volume 23, Number 1

leaving Hugo

her hair a nest built by mourning doves
Grandma took the coat money from the humidor
I don't know why it is
there's always a problem in families

in a cinder-block building in Hugo, Minnesota
a single mother in a purple sweatshirt
coils springs for cluster bombs
children fall like leaves behind the water tower

it's time to forgive ourselves
we can't sleep through the night anymore
time to pluck that taut wire beside the heart
beneath the smokestacks of silence

our unbeautiful dead keep mum in the trees
eyes like cold lanterns adrift on a vast black river
while our fancies ply their dismal trade
on the far side of the mountain

none of us will return from anywhere
none of us has set down the glass and thought
this is what I have to do right now
smoke's been rising from the peat bog

another war bangs away just out of sight
young girls in their pleated skirts
learn to kiss beside the bike path
practicing on one another

—Terry Spohn