When a man elopes with a daffodil, you know where he’s from.

This is one of my favorite poems. Which is not necessarily saying a lot, since I mostly only read poems written by people under 12. (Don’t get me wrong, their poetry is excellent. It’s my poetry reading that is deficient.) I usually post it every spring to various social media platforms, so if I’ve shown it to you a dozen times before…..well, time to read it again.

A Primer

Bob Hicock

I remember Michigan fondly as the place I go

to be in Michigan. The right hand of America

waving from maps or the left

pressing into clay a mold to take home

from kindergarten to Mother. I lived in Michigan

forty-three years. The state bird

is a chained factory gate. The state flower

is Lake Superior, which sounds egotistical

though it is merely cold and deep as truth.

A Midwesterner can use the word “truth,”

can sincerely use the word “sincere.”

In truth the Midwest is not mid or west.

When I go back to Michigan I drive through Ohio.

There is off I-75 in Ohio a mosque, so life

goes corn corn corn mosque, I wave at Islam,

which we’re not getting along with

on account of the Towers as I pass.

Then Ohio goes corn corn corn

billboard, goodbye, Islam. You never forget

how to be from Michigan when you’re from Michigan.

It’s like riding a bike of ice and fly fishing.

The Upper Peninsula is a spare state

in case Michigan goes flat. I live now

in Virginia, which has no backup plan

but is named the same as my mother,

I live in my mother again, which is creepy

but so is what the skin under my chin is doing,

suddenly there’s a pouch like marsupials

are needed. The state joy is spring.

“Osiris, we beseech thee, rise and give us baseball”

is how we might sound were we Egyptian in April,when February hasn’t ended. February

is thirteen months long in Michigan.

We are a people who by February

want to kill the sky for being so gray

and angry at us. “What did we do?”

is the state motto. There’s a day in May

when we’re all tumblers, gymnastics

is everywhere, and daffodils are asked

by young men to be their wives. When a man elopes

with a daffodil, you know where he’s from.

In this way I have given you a primer.

Let us all be from somewhere.

Let us tell each other everything we can.

Learning to be from Michigan has become such an important part of my identity in the last five years. I grind my teeth on these lines when February is 13 months long. I celebrate with my fellow citizens on a perfect day like today, when we can sit outside on a street corner, half pretending we’re somewhere besides Main St., and half loving Main St. for being exactly what it is.

You know how when you stand in a doorway and press your arms out against the door frame and count to 40, and then when you step away your arms fly up in the air from the sudden lack of resistance? That’s what this afternoon felt like.


3 thoughts on “When a man elopes with a daffodil, you know where he’s from.

  1. The state joy is spring. Indeed! Love this, especially on a day when I’m off to teach a spring-themed poetry workshop. Thanks for sharing!

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