Nellie Hill

Nellie Hill grew up in Illinois and New Hampshire and now lives in Berkeley, CA.   Her poetry and stories have appeared in a wide variety of journals and magazines.  Of her five collections of poetry, the most recent is Winter Horse.  

Meeting the Stranger

St. Louis, January, old car, scotch,
parking lot covered with snow.
Snowy smells around his leather jacket,

his voice urgent but slow as he implores.
We’ve been drinking scotch and eating pork rinds
for hours at the bar.  I loved the dark wood
and low, quiet voices of others. Snow relentless,
floating through the lamplight, hanging from branches,
covering the windows with whiteness. 

Frozen in our moments together, sick of chips and pork rinds
we go to his car, his leather jacket with the fur collar,
I bury my face there to hide that I have no feeling,
only aromas and sounds, the gravelly pitch of his voice.
We sit in the front seat, his arms around me,
my arms mimic his, wrapping myself
around snow with red hair and a bass voice.

Ongoing whiteness, every parking lot, every yard filled,
and all the parks and woods, the trees like bearded ghosts.

Why think of death? But we weren’t, we were young,
even he, older, already a professor. Glad to be hidden
by snow, beautiful, silent, protective.

Some of the lingering birds wouldn’t make it through winter,
mice and rabbits, too, would freeze, starve in their winter nests
even as the next day’s sun expands and brightens, they’d die.
All my winters I’ve looked into the ice to see if the small bodies

are there; and, if the ice is clear with no clouding of snow,
you can see them, caught like fish, with their frozen fin-like wings.


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