National Poetry Month Spotlight: Saunier

Welcome to National Poetry Month, 2016! We’re celebrating all month long. Each day we will bring you a poem we love–a selection from one of our published or forthcoming collections.

Today’s featured poet is Hayden Saunier, author of   Tips for Domestic Travel.

Mother, for once, it wasn’t your fault.
You always said you can’t soak hams
long enough and one full day and night
seemed adequate, but we gave it two,
scrubbed mold, rind, salt away, changed
the water, tucked it like a baby in its bath,
scrubbed, rinsed, then patted dry, made ready.
Butter and brown sugar coated all our hands.
Let’s face it; it was ancient, not just aged.
The woman at the ham shack must have seen
my husband’s Pennsylvania plates and figured
what the hell, he won’t be coming back. Or
it was just bad luck. But wasn’t our discussion
on life with Lewis and Clark educational
for the children? Ham jerky! Ham-flavored
chewing gum to last a winter portage through
the Bitterroots! We were jolly then, those spots
still undiscovered on your lungs. Yes,
my Yankee husband cut it on the band saw
but so would any man faced with that ham
who had a power tool in reach. That was Easter.
November now. You’re dead. I’m making
black bean soup, beginning with a frozen cut
of that disaster sizzling in a taste of olive oil.
No other seasoning is needed for this winter’s
portage, just my store of crosscut sections:
meat and marrow, brown sugar, grease and bone.
Hayden Saunier1.2
Hayden Saunier is the author of the poetry collections Tips for Domestic Travel and Say Luck (which won the 2013 Gell Poetry Prize) and a chapbook, Field Trip to the Underworld, winner of the Keystone Chapbook Prize.  Her work has been widely published and was awarded the 2011 Pablo Neruda Prize, the 2011 Rattle Poetry Prize and the 2005 Robert Fraser Award. She lives on a farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.