Lynne Hjelmgaard

Lynne Hjelmgaard was born in New York City and lives in London. She taught Creative Art for children in various schools and institutions before she started writing poetry. She left the USA in 1990 for the second time and has been living permanently in the UK since 2011. As a result of crossing the Atlantic in a sailboat with her husband she wrote poems that were later collected in Manhattan Sonnets. After her husband died in 2006, she received a residency grant for the Danish Academy in Rome where she wrote poems that later appeared in The Ring. A Boat Called Annalise was published with Seren Books in 2016 and A Second Whisper appeared in 2019.



Photo: Jane Allan


Border Crossings »

Lynne Hjelmgaard, Maja Lee Langvad

Sun 8 March | 14:15 - 15:15 | £4.50/£3.50 | Undercroft, St John's House, South Street


Scorpion Hill

Sometimes, at sunset, I return to our house in a small boat.
         It glides easily across the channel, the song of tree frogs
                  following with the evening wind.

Other times getting across is like trying to ride a wet bull
         without a saddle, thighs clinging to its back,
                  hands struggling for grab holds in the cockpit,

spray hitting hard – biting hard – a slap across the face.
         Why go back there to share the company of vermin and ghosts?
                  Where there are echoes of conversations: you walking towards me

to put the kettle on or to pour a glass of red
         complaining about bites from the no-see-ums; where rats chew
                  on window screens or squeeze through cracks

in the cupboard, teeth marks left on apples and soap.
         Loud rattling doors that never locked, can’t shut,
                  scorpions disappear into hiding places.

Outside a cluster of moths, all shapes and disguises,
         wings fluttering, cling to a single light bulb
                  left on during the night.

Lynne Hjelmgaard

From A Second Whisper (Seren Books, 2019)