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Nancy Jean Hill

The Hawk


One morning, after eating bacon and eggs,

I saw a red-tailed hawk

swipe—such a blur—

a mourning dove

from underneath our feeder.

Carried it in her talons

to the highest branch

of the tallest tree

in our backyard.


I stood at the kitchen window,

my horrified, innocent self,

and called for my husband,

who is more intimate

with such scenes,

to stand beside me.


Holding hands, we watched

the blood and guts,

the dove’s distressingly slow demise,

the hawk’s meticulous satisfaction.



Geographic Atrophy


My husband and I fought

when he pointed out a spot

I missed while washing our new skillet.

I know this is hard for you to see, he said

and then suggested I let him

wash all things with black interiors.


My beautiful blue eyes have betrayed me.

I fear, when I go out in public,

 that I have hair on my face I can’t see.

Stains on the front of all my shirts.

Friends on the street are strangers.

Expressions on loved ones’ faces erased.


My retina specialist tells me

small atrophic lesions

in the macula of both eyes

want to spread, get bigger,

at a speed no one can predict,

the way separate clouds

 join to make bigger clouds

leaving only small cracks of blue.



Winter Solstice


Bundled up, I watch the man 

I am beginning to love

 celebrate with fire.


A woman sitting near me

in a low lawn chair rambles

about the rubble in her life,

her powerlessness to heed

the Lord’s Prayer,

to stay away from temptation,

the Adonis who beats peace out of her

not with his fist but with his way

of showing up in the middle of the night

with an insatiable desire to suck.


After I have listened to her

for a long while, I move

away, closer to the man

who continues to feed the fire.



The Champion’s Daughter


Father taught me to bump and run.

Pressed my wrists forward on the club,

told me to close the face, keep an open stance.


Ten or twenty yards from the pin,

this is your best shot, he said.

I felt awkward in an open stance—

off-balance—afraid if I moved

I would lose everything.


But Father was two-time club champ,

and I was his daughter.


The idea is to keep the ball low,

stay in control.


I felt out of control,

pubescent sweat

pooling in my arm pits.


But Father was two-time club champ,

and I was his daughter.


Swing it like a pendulum —

take it back and follow through.


I took the club back too far

came down too hard

left a flapping divot.


Don’t cock your wrists, honey.

Keep them good and stiff.


I mustered up guts,

topped the ball this time,

rolled it way past the pin.


You forgot the bump part.

Try it again.


Head down

and a bucket of balls,

I practiced.


Today I am the champion’s daughter.

Ask anyone.


Bumping and running

is the best part of my game.


How to Shed the Armor

after Jennifer Sweeney


Get rid of the Spanx.


Wear a frilly dress with confidence.

Stop fretting about the bulge.




Lie naked in the dandelions,

pained with sensation.


Go back to being a virgin.

Feel the sorrow of losing.


Trudge through the forest

of uprooted trees.

Roll in poison ivy. 

Stop scratching.


Sink your teeth

into a moss-covered rock.

Let your jaw relax.

Taste the green.


Nancy Jean Hill is the author of two collections of poetry, Beryllium Diary (Pudding House, 2007, and rereleased by Igneus Press, 2015and Unholy Ghost (Kelsay Books, 2016). Her poems have also appeared in several literary journals and anthologies.    She lives and writes in Exeter, NH and Readfield, ME.


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