Potato Soup by Twyla Hansen

Potato Soup Potato Soup by Twyla Hansen

Author: Twyla Hansen
Format: Paperback, 81 pages
ISBN: 0972618724
Published: April 2003

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Awards for Potato Soup

The Nebraska Book Award for Poetry, 2004

Poems from Twyla Hansen’s Potato Soup


Potato Soup

In the early years she helped her mother plant peels,
carry the dishpan out to the garden, digging holes.
What you eat is what you plant, her mother always said,
that edible tuber common as dirt, a near-daily staple.
One grandmother left potato country long ago for this one,
another immigrated for the promise of more potato land.
As she learned to cook, she began peeling alone at the sink,
sticking a spare slice on her tongue, smell of starch
lingering on her fingers. Mashed, fried, baked on Sundays
for hours, regular as pulsating winds over the plains.
Soon graduating to French fries in sizzling grease, to fermented
spirits of the potato. Beginning with a certain look in an eye,
relying on folklore, that time of the month safe if planted
at night under the expansive and unblinking moon. Grabbling
into the soil around roots to steal an eager potato or two.
She’s fond of the skin color, the flesh, textures, exotic flavors.
Moving on to potato-salad years, quick-boiled varieties
from the hot tub. Decades here and gone; potato-love constant.
By now she’s concluded it’s best on gradual simmer, consolation
accompanying maturity. In the afternoon she sautés onion
and butter, stirs in flour and milk, chops celery, carrot, adds
chicken stock. She thinks of the hour when they’ll be eating,
into twilight, of the long night ahead in front of the fire.
Should she throw in something extra, for tang, for play—
a measure of chardonnay? All her life, she thinks, it has come
down to this, bringing the bottle up slow to meet her lips.

This Early Evening

This early evening he is on top of plywood
on top of what will be roof of the new addition,
crawling around, nailing down tar paper.
I cannot watch him lean toward the edge
with the round metal disks, hammer, nails.
I don’t know why,
why at heights my legs
stiffen when I must descend, why I suddenly
feel heavy or clumsy or both.
Last year at the Anasazi ruins, tall ladders
taking us from one ancient level to the next.
He laughs at photos—look, she’s got a death grip
on that rung.
Now’s the time for deftness and buoyancy,
sweetness and light. The gravity of air,
not earth, balancing on the tip of a feather.
Think bird and wing, the parting of airwaves.
This early evening from a ladder on the edge
of the new roof, my knees weak, watching him,
and overhead, gulls circling,
circling and
turning, disappearing over the treetops,
the sun hitting their undersides as if cotton
hankies in the sky, floating,
soaring,
in early fall a gathering of robust gulls
going south, their webbed feet dangling freely
in the wind, along for the ride.

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