The Poetic Hill

Gina Sangster in a 2018 portrait.

Gina Sangster is a DC native who grew up on Capitol Hill, where she currently works as a therapist. Her essays have appeared in the Hill Rag, Washington Post, and District Lines, and her poetry in various small magazines. She says that the poem below “got started as I was sitting outside waiting for a carpenter I’ve known for probably 30 years. He actually wasn’t so late, but the first line came to me, a thought I’ve had many times, and the rest of the poem evolved from there.” She adds that one of her most prized possessions is a hammer that belonged to her father, “who worked on a number of Capitol Hill homes back in the 60s, including the frame house he and my mother purchased in 1958 for $9,500!”


Waiting for the Carpenter

They never call or come on time
but you wait dutifully, glad to see
their truck pull up with its’
cargo of heavy tools.

Plumbers tend to be more timely,
perhaps pitying the havoc and
despair that can ensue
if they delay.

But the men who saw and
measure, hammer and level,
repair and rebuild with
planks of wood, molding
and floor boards are all
members of an unnamed clan.

My father, for one, was
never on time, but what he’d
create from salvaged slices
of city architecture, from
delicate sheaves of gold leaf,
were treasures worth
waiting for.

So my mother taught me to wait,
sometimes in silence,
sometimes with words of
frustration rising to the surface,
until the next time
when you need one of them
and no one else can take his place.


Come meet local poets at the Literary Hill BookFest, Sunday, May 6, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., at Eastern Market. Then join us across the street on Tunnicliff ‘s patio at 3 p.m. for Poets’ Corner@Tunnicliff’s, a reading and open-mic poetry event.

If you would like to have your poem considered for publication, please send it to (There is no remuneration.)