Sean Hill

Family Way
July 21, 2020 Hill Sean

Family Way


In my family, when any one of the women of my grandmother’s generation dreamt of fish she would get on the phone to confer with the others about who of the younger generations was pregnant. They knew the news would be coming soon.
One night, early on, in her bed—in the sleep after—I dreamed of cats knocking over fishbowls, and since I woke up sad I seemed to have known what it meant.
Before we headed to our days, we had coffee on her front steps in the early air. Her neighbor’s tomcat, a muted black—scar-tissue-and-muscle-swollen head, neck, and shoulders—proportioned like a bulldog and yet graceful, paced a perimeter around her yard and did not come into our space.
Out of the hedge a tortoiseshell tabby tom stray tipped through leaf litter and stopped short of the perimeter. Gray tom—relaxed and ready—sank. His skin—a rippleless pond reflecting a granite sky—still save the twitch of his erratic tail—a dragonfly darting. They blew together in a squall.

Sean Hill is the author of Dangerous Goods (Milkweed Editions, 2014), awarded the Minnesota Book Award, and Blood Ties & Brown Liquor (UGA Press, 2008), selected as one of the Ten Books All Georgians Should Read In 2015 by the Georgia Center for the Book. Hill has received numerous awards including fellowships from Cave Canem, Minnesota State Arts Board, the University of Wisconsin, Stanford University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. His poems and essays have appeared in the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series, Callaloo, Harvard Review, New England Review, Orion, The Oxford American, Poetry,, and numerous other journals, and in over a dozen anthologies including Black Nature and Villanelles. He directs the Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference at Bemidji State University and lives in Montana. More information can be found at his website: