Our high school principal wagged his finger

over two manila folders

lying on his desk, labeled with our names—

my boyfriend and me—

called to his office for skipping school.


The day before, we ditched Latin and world history

to chase shadows of clouds on a motorcycle.

We roared down rolling asphalt roads

through the Missouri River bottoms

beyond town, our heads emptied

of review tests and future plans.


We stopped on a dirt lane to hear

a meadowlark’s liquid song, smell

heart-break blossom of wild plum.

Beyond leaning fence posts and barbwire,

a tractor drew straight lines across the field

unfurling its cape of blackbirds.


Now forty years after that geography lesson

in spring, I remember the principal’s words.

How right he was in saying:

This will be part of

your permanent record.


-Margaret Hasse


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