“Selling the Children” & “When I Was a Kid”

Poetry by Robert W. Hill

Selling the Children

“I am the one that captured your girls
and I will sell them in the market.”

—Abubaku Shekau  

A cream and grey Cadillac hearse stands
dead on the shoulder. Dig the grave by
hand. Snow and sun have time to fall inside. 

Clouds are bellying up in layers
behind the black silhouettes of trees
down the slopes behind our house.

Our debts pile up undersea like oil
and corexit, undulating in submarine
currents. Wailing in the wash.

When I Was a Kid

I hoped to see the wisdom in pictures such as 
this one. At twelve, I wondered why the bare tree 
in the background lifted my eyes, swaddled 
my spirit in the crescent of that flag, palmetto 

in the fold, fashioned white on blue, complement to 
the gray sky. I loved wintry distance, try today 
only to snatch the briefest tint of that western 
fall. It kept moving, and I cannot catch it now, 

could not, young as I was. Then, I tried to pin it 
down with a house, with a vine-covered white shed, just 
something, anything, the big white house in the cul-
de-sac, young enough not to know the cost of fierce 

frenzy, blindered trough of chiaroscuro. Comfort. 
Foundless surprise, to face such fecund bleakness, no 
boy of the land. A gawker at the feet of light.