Two Poems by Alison Hicks

These two poems of Alison Hicks tell of journeys, of places of joining and opening, in the ever-shifting landscape of the heart…

by: Alison Hicks


I was told a path had been cut.
Beyond the railroad tracks, through the cornfield.
The corn grew over my head, hiding my progress
from the jealous sky.

There were the trees at the edge of the river,
branches spreading low.
Hillocks of sand deposited during flusher times.

At the point, a beach at the joining.
The James a mouth swallowing the Tye. 
A rippled line where one fed into the other.

I’d wanted to see it, tried to reach it by water, and failed, 
the opening, currents blending. 
I walked out over ridges of sand, sank in.

I look up the striped burrfish
that my son says he pulled up from the Delaware Bay.
A little puffer, he says, he was all blown up.

Beach seining is a day on the water, documenting species.
He falls asleep in his clothes when he returns,
coming downstairs for dinner in the middle of the evening. 

His father and I draw a curtain over his childhood,
which we lift, remembering.
The boy who grew up reading field guides, 
studying similarities and variations.

The older a population is, the more variations in its genome. 
Humans are more alike than different. 
Chimps are an older line with more variations. 

Let us cast nets outward to the variety of the world.

The striped burrfish, Chilomycterus schoepfi,
is a member of the porcupinefish family Diodontidae,
class Actinopterygii, order Tetraodontiformes.

Spawns off New Jersey in July, why it shows up
in the Delaware Bay in early August.

I text my son photos so he’ll see 
the confluence of the James and Tye Rivers,
where I am, the James looking west, east,
the Tye creating a line of ripples
only forced to integrate further down,
when it hits the bank I’m standing on.

The path across railroad tracks, 
past the green mustard house,
the wide swath through the cornfield,
the trees by the bank, turning sand into soil,
deposited in an earlier, rushing season.

Alison Hicks was awarded the 2021 Birdy Prize from Meadowlark Press for Knowing Is a Branching Trail. Previous collections are You Who Took the Boat Out and Kiss, a chapbook Falling Dreams, and a novella Love: A Story of Images. Her work has appeared in Eclipse, Gargoyle, Permafrost, and Poet Lore. She was named a finalist for the 2021 Beullah Rose prize from Smartish Pace, and nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Green Hills Literary Lantern, Quartet Journal, and Nude Bruce Review. She is founder of Greater Philadelphia Wordshop Studio, which offers community-based writing workshops.

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