Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

Hell Pig


Hell Pig

Aimee Nezhukumatathil

To keep me from staying out late at night,

my mother warned of the Hell Pig. Black and full

of hot drool, eyes the color of a lung—it'd follow me

home if I stayed past my curfew. How to tell my friends

to press Pause in the middle of a video, say their good-byes

while I shuffled up the stairs and into my father's waiting

blue car? How to explain this to my dates, whisper

why we could not finish this dance? It's not like the pig

had any special powers or could take a tiny bite

from my leg - only assurances that it was simply

scandal to be followed home. When my date and I
pull into my driveway and dim the lights, we

take care to make all the small noises that get made

in times like these even smaller: squeaks in the seats,

a slow spin of the radio dial, the silver click of my belt.

Too late. A single black hair flickers awake the ear

of the dark animal waiting for me at the end of the walk.

My fumbling of keys and various straps a wild dance

to the door - the pig grunting in tune to each hurried step, each

of his wet breaths puffing into tiny clouds, a small storm brewing.

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 76, No. 3 (Fall 2002), pp. 34-35


Author Photo of Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Aimee Nezhukumatathil is associate professor of English at the State University of New York-Fredonia, where she teaches creative writing and environmental literature. She is the author of three poetry collections: Lucky Fish, winner of the gold medal in Poetry from the Independent Publisher Book Awards and the Eric Hoffer Grand Prize for Independent Books; At the Drive-In Volcano, winner of the Balcones Prize; and Miracle Fruit, winner of the Tupelo Press Prize, ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award, the Global Filipino Award, and a finalist for The Glasgow Prize and the Asian American Literary Award. Her first chapbook, Fishbone, won the Snail’s Pace Press Prize.