Hilary Sallick

The bay at high tide

calls us


a colorless sheen    

in its long


and closer    darker

of traveling


           we swim in it

paint it    breast-stroke

brush stroke     heartbeat

Sadness is intrinsic

So is joy

Silence is full of dreams

and also reading is in the silence

We watched the moonrise last night from the bridge

A flock of geese carved a path down the river

Then nine turkeys in two trees roosted

Now chickadees are waking

The turkeys have woken and come down

            from their trees

The mind lacks self-awareness, or else it has too much

In my dream the country was at war

            and the children imprisoned

I was realizing it could go on for years

The machines are starting up

The mind seeks truth despite itself

           and the surrounding forces

A truck is beeping incessantly

Its long arm reaches, lifting the driver above the house

The driver steers the machine to the chosen position

He has something to do up there

I take these notes without question

and the words are more or less true

He buckles the harness, steps out of the cage 

           to perch on the roof

He does something of necessity

and the machine waits in silence

The anxiety of a living thing grows

It’s about love is what I know

To push away the dream does not diminish its power


Later we went to the beach

almost sunset  the Sound

dark and lush and foamy

Da and I walked step by step

through the splash   

cold wind blowing   then 

into the water’s shelter we swam    

the waves sloshing over us

Mom  Verna  and Abe  stood shivering

on the shore

and those few who’d come for the day

were packing up to go home

A flock of gulls perched in rows 

facing the water   intent as if receiving

solemn news   

Then we came out

dripping and laughing

and wrapped towels

around ourselves

From Asking the Form


It was a small velvet box.

It was a dry brown pod.

It was something tightly sealed, 

rattling its riches

or silent with fullness.

I carried it home

to the shelf, forgotten—

until it snapped open,

until it breathed out,

trailing nothing,

completely unattached,

the seeds of it.

The Meeting

There are things we could talk about,

large, interesting, amazing things,

questions that concern both of us.

Facing each other, we smile,

we listen, we speak,


There are things we could talk about,

protected, treasured,

within both of us.

We could turn in that direction.

We could try to put into words

the flame, the desire, the fear.

Maybe we will.

Perhaps that is why

we meet here,  hopeful,  polite,

facing each other,

though I sit alone

in a kind of wretchedness

I can’t tell you about.

There are things we could talk about,

questions could rise glowing

between us.

What stops us?

Why do I sit here, alone,

silent and trying

to speak to you?

“The Meeting” first appeared in Constellations.

After Painting

Mist, scratches of yellow in the green,

branches of mauve, white

undersides of leaves all along

the south-bound highway—     

for we painted this morning.   

    The island rose before us,    

spruce and red pine. Bright squirts of paint

beside two cups of coffee. Our brushes

with orange handles swished color quickly 

over empty space.

Some poems in online journals:

Swimming, The Bookends Review

Raptor, Exposition Review

City Garden, Hawk and Whippoorwill

Perennial, Inflectionist Review #7, p. 71

Nine Walking Dreams, Modern Poetry Quarterly Review

Two poems, Muddy River Poetry Review

What I Didn’t Do, Muddy River Poetry Review

Two Poems, The Poetry Porch 2020