MN poetry: Margaret Hasse’s “Disguises”

Margaret Hasse is the author of several books of poetry, and the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship. She lives in Saint Paul with her husband and sons, and works as a freelance writer, teacher and consultant.


The smoke of the roasted pumpkin drifts down the street

from jack-o-lanterns burning in the night.

A little ghost trips on his sheet and cries out.

A pint-sized pirate, an alien who lost his flashlight,

and a famous baseball player run from house to house.

Watchful parents on foot trail the trick-or-treaters.

My son’s friend wanted to paint his face black

to complete his costume as Jackie Robinson.

My son’s real skin would have restricted him

to the colored section just two generations ago.

My own face appears in the mask of a fake mother

to my hopped-up-on candy boy.

Yet I wear the worried look of any real mother

aware of ragged unlit pavement, tampered loot,

and the terrible whiteness of my own skin as we pass

a scarecrow hanging by his neck in a front yard.

– “Disguises” by Margaret Hasse, as it appears in her book Milk and Tides, published by Nodin Press. Reprinted here with permission from the publisher.

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