Haku, Anna Hiltner
My sister and I grew up between golden hills
that glared against the rough blue sky of Tahoe country.
Mom and Dad sat us down in a too-small,
too-expensive California home to tell us
we were moving to Florida.
My sister and I pierced our home
first with shrills for Disney,
and seashells on beaches—then with tears
that the golden hills would no longer be ours.
A month into our lonesome new life in swampy wildlands,
Mom coaxed us from the central black hole of Florida
and out to the fringes—
to the strip of coast where everyone looked up.
The Space Coast has a funny area code.
Everyone’s phone numbers start 3-2-1…
See, we were born into a world where humans
walked on the Moon. And when we stood along the dark,
lapping waters of the Indian River
across from NASA’s hazy buildings,
a whole kingdom of sky and water away,
I knew what would happen when Mom shouted the area code at us.
I didn’t know space shuttles split the world open with light,
even at high noon. The ground rumbled,
not a California earthquake, and fire and noise
unfurled vicious streaks up into somewhere
that hurt to look at.
I knew then that the hills of home were never gold.
They were just carved of dead, yellowed grass,
but the wild, rough blue above went farther here.
So far, and so high, that I smiled
at the vicious streaks fighting upward.
About the Author
Elizabeth Tammi · Mercer University
Elizabeth Tammi is the author of the novels Outrun the Wind and The Weight of a Soul, and is represented by KT Literary Agency. She graduated with a degree in creative writing and journalism in 2020 from Mercer University. By day, she works in astrophysics communications. You can find her online at elizabethtammi.com, Twitter (@ElizabethTammi), Instagram (elizabeth_tammi), and Tumblr (annabethisterrified).
About the Artist
Anna Hiltner · Princeton University
Anna Hiltner ’23 is a sophomore at Princeton University. After taking a gap year in Bolivia, she is studying sociology, Latin American studies, and journalism. Her piece “Haku”, or “let’s go” in Quechua, was taken in Cochabamba, Bolivia on the Día de los Peatones. The Día de los Peatones, or “day of the pedestrians” is a national holiday when no cars are allowed, leaving pedestrians and bicyclists to take over the streets. This piece first appeared in The Nassau Literary Review.