Three Poems by Tresha Faye Haefner

The First Time I Was Hungry

We were not as hungry 
as we could have been. My mother reminded me. 
It was the end of the month. 
A new emptiness rose up in the cupboards.
The sky a dinner bell, not dead, but resting. 
Figs fattened on the tree 
in my neighbor’s yard.
Men coming home from their construction jobs.
Drove by blaring Billy Ray Cyrus
on their working radios.
My friend’s mother knocked on door 
after door selling Avon products, 
we could not afford.
My mother worked to find
some squat grains of rice in a bag,
pulled a can of thin tomatoes off the shelf.
My father brought in a cabbage, pale
From the back of the field. My mother chopped its leaves
her face falling apart in the steam. 
Inside our mobile home the night grew 
dark as a stew. We bowed our heads.
Prayer turned to hunger in the stomach.
The mouth opened 
wide as a confessor’s door. 

At the Airport

The year screams out of me, sea birds pouring from a wound.
On the window-sill a gull lands on its broken leg,
the memory of travel dangling from its eyes. 
At the moment of departure, the air quiets. I remember 
the heartbeat of an oak, as I swung through its faith.
My shoulders bird upward. Where are the old nights 
In the theater? The kiss I blew flies
through the dark, looking for invisible applause.
A family says goodbye. Their faces quiet as rain.
The daughter braids her hand into a new millennium.
The father wipes an old life away from his face. 
On the runway a woman pulls her past behind her. 
I lift the beginning of my life.
Continents await. Oceans flatter.
The moon looks down, ready to break
my heart, everywhere I go.


/disˈôrēˌent/ : to turn from the east.


Mother a destiny.
Wind, with nothing for a star,
Travel west.

Deserts appear
Where there were only strangers.
The body becomes cactus, flower, sand.

Know cowboy
Loneliness. The hard skulls
Of cattle.

Buffalo fall behind you.
Eat wild rabbit.
Feet tough with running.

Constellations form 
Feel the pole of your body

Pull you. Your shoulders 
Shadow new land.

The turning will return you
To the starting gate of angels
Before the East began.

Tresha Faye Haefner has poetry appearing or forthcoming in several journals and magazines, most notably The Cincinnati Review, Prairie Schooner, Radar, and Rattle. Her work was awarded the 2011 Robert and Adele Schiff Poetry Prize. 

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