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About this poet

Twyla M. Hansen was raised in northeast Nebraska. She received a BS and an MAg from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Hansen is the author of several poetry collections, including Rock • Tree • Bird (The Backwaters Press, 2017); Dirt Songs: A Plains Duet (The Backwaters Press, 2011), which she cowrote with Linda M. Hasselstrom and which received the 2012 Nebraska Book Award and was a finalist for the 2012 High Plains Book Award and 2012 WILLA Literary Award; Potato Soup (The Backwaters Press, 2003), winner of the 2004 Nebraska Book Award; and In Our Very Bones (Slow Tempo Press, 1997).

In 2013, Hansen was selected as the Nebraska state poet, a position she will hold through 2018. She is also the recipient of a Mayor’s Landscape Conservation Award for her work creating an urban wildlife habitat. Hansen lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.


Selected Bibliography

Rock • Tree • Bird (The Backwaters Press, 2017)
Dirt Songs: A Plains Duet (The Backwaters Press, 2011)
Prairie Suite: A Celebration (Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center, 2006)
Potato Soup (The Backwaters Press, 2003)
In Our Very Bones (Slow Tempo Press, 1997)
How to Live in the Heartland (Flatwater Editions, 1992)

When You Leave

When you leave it will be empty:
dried leaves on gray-haired limbs,
clumps of gooseberry minus the berries.

Tracks across frozen water will lead
to a frigid channel,
springs seeping away from the source,
snow-covered hills reminding us
of the rolling, frozen sea.

The sun, low and yellow,
will not thaw any ice-covered bridges,
all slipping and falling,
no turtle miraculous emerging
from the snowbank to save me.

When you leave it will be all deer track
and rabbit scat, decayed leaf and prickly ash,
evidence of frantic digging.
Brush continuing a slow choke
over the disconnected sandbar,
little bluestem fighting back.

When you are gone it will be indelible
as a leaf fossil in ice, brief, no answer
in the night to the call of your name,
morning minus the light, forever
non-communion.

 From In Our Very Bones (A Slow Tempo Press, 1997). Copyright © 1997 by Twyla Hansen. Used with the permission of the author.

 From In Our Very Bones (A Slow Tempo Press, 1997). Copyright © 1997 by Twyla Hansen. Used with the permission of the author.

Twyla M. Hansen

Twyla M. Hansen is the author of several poetry collections, including Dirt Songs: A Plains Duet (The Backwaters Press, 2011). She lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.

by this poet

poem

Adult: I have trouble falling asleep at night.
Child: But don’t you close your eyes?

The art of sleep isn’t tough for those who have the gift—
they're puzzled at the rest of us with trouble in the night.

And during the day, that tumbling sensation, anxious,

poem

as I picture her
she has no basil
no cumin
no sun-hardened hyssop
nor sage around her eyes

she never catnips
but laughs comfrey
tansy with a primula smile

as I think of her
she's angelica
foxglove and jasmine
somewhat peppermint
not letting you see

poem

Picture him amid the rust—hand tools, jars of screws,
bolts, half-useful wrenches—assembling miniature farm
wagons, windmills, trains, as if one day he would return.

And return he does—in the various and sundry nails,
boxes of brads, wood scraps, lengths of wire thick
with dust—as the