Wednesday May 31

Hill Poetry Lindsay Stuart Hill’s work has appeared in Ploughshares, The Southern Review, Five Points, Barrow Street, Salamander, and North American Review. Her chapbook, One Life, was published by Finishing Line Press. She received her MFA from the University of Virginia, where she was the recipient of a Henry Hoyns Fellowship and the Academy of American Poets Prize.

Collecting Shells

I rush to answer my toothed thoughts
with smooth ones, as in an arrangement of shells.
The day I stop playing will be the day I die,
I once pledged. Now I’m crossing wet sand,
walking over mirrors that vanish so quickly
I never see anything reflected but sky.
The beach is scattered with rotting seaweed,
piles soft, forgiving under my feet. Inexplicably,
I catch the scent of cotton candy lip gloss—
on all the girls’ lips in middle school,
masking the spoiled smell of our sweat.
Making our mouths sparkle, angry as rhinestones.
Preserving us. Beneath, the seaweed’s stench
opens memories of the dead things I’ve smelled
and seen: squirrels, sparrows, roosters and a calf.
There is a hard fragility to a past that won’t leave
you, though its center has decayed, like the body
of a whelk. It is the bright and unbreaking thought
you unwillingly return to, the shells that over the years
you have collected and protected from the ocean.
There is a hollow sound out here, like air blown
over the lip of a glass bottle. Maybe a boat
is docked somewhere, a giant shell of a boat
that I could step into and untether.