Nancy Jean Hill

Summer Love, 1960

 

We talked as Girls do—

Fond, and late—

                              Emily Dickinson

 

We fell in love the way girls do—

Braided one another’s hair—

Butterflies grew in our bellies

and telling private stories—became necessary.

 

We were nine years old—or maybe she was ten—

Often we sat cross-legged on her bed, holding hands.

She had thin blond hair—crooked teeth —

For Sure we’d be best friends, Forever— 

 

I wrote letters to her all September—

even into October—No Reply—

November—a stack came back—

Return to Sender—Stamped— on every one.

Saving My Green-Eyed Princess

for Mandy

 

Last night your Papa appeared in a dream. 

A royal prince bearing a hatchet,

he chopped through thick ice, plunged

his arms into the cold, black hole,

pulled you out, lifted you high

toward a diamond in the sacred sky. 

 

You were eleven-years-old when I 

avoided your green eyes

and held up your platinum hair. 

Made an offering of your back, 

fairer than the fairest of them all,

to the surgeon’s knife, and as he sliced

I had visions of the seven tumors 

that had sprouted in your Papa’s brain

from a benign-looking spot 

that leaked no warning.

His surgeon had dug, too late

too deep, offering up air

to this malign seed of the sun.

 

And I recalled, while your surgeon sewed, 

the winter I bore down, pushed you out

into the cold, and brought you to him,

your father’s father. Tears simmered

in his pale green eyes as he curved 

his freckled knuckles around your toes,

wiggled them as though he were going 

to market instead of home.
 

You are twenty-eight now, and they excavate

again, from your groin this time, 

where an innocent freckle’s grown 

into a heart-shaped mole, mottled and raised, 

uneven boundaries threatening to invade, 

and I  smell your blood 

from a thousand miles away,

dream a mother’s dream 

of you falling through ice

into a cold, black hole.  

On Giving Up Golf

The bayonet plants are in bloom
and pine pollen stings my eyes.


The man next door polishes his golf shoes.
They shine like black bullets.


His wife leans over the railing
to say my life will be ordinary


if I give up golf.
My father taught me how.


The coldest spring in two decades,
my fingers too stiff to grip a club.


My throat is a culvert
filled with sand and grief.


Sea creatures washed up
after a storm amaze me.


I have taken sixty-six photos.

Nancy Jean Hill is the author of two collections of poetry: Unholy Ghost and Beryllium Diary. Her Poems have also appeared in several literary journals. She lives and writes in Stratham, New Hampshire and Readfield, Maine.

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