The Poetic Hill

Poet Gina Sangster

Gina Sangster is a DC native who grew up on Capitol Hill and raised her three children here. A therapist, she has had poetry and essays published in various small magazines, the Hill Rag, District Lines, and the Washington Post.

Gina says she is “probably the most undisciplined writer I know—I never follow the protocol of daily writing and I’m grateful that my muse hasn’t given up on me!” 

She says that the poem below comes from a distinct memory she has of being with her mother soon after she learned of her cancer diagnosis at age 70. Libby Sangster lived two more years and continued to run her antique shop, “Antiques on the Hill,” until about a month before she died on November 20th, 1990.

The Capitol Hill Association of Merchants and Professionals (CHAMPS) subsequently designated a Retailer of the Year award in her honor. “On her birthday that year, September 29th,” Gina recalls, “ the corner of 7th and North Carolina Avenue was covered with flowers brought by friends and loyal customers. She was a neighborhood icon.”

Literary Hill

For my mother Libby Sangster 1918-1990

Eventually, they’ll go on

without me – the two sisters,

their children, their brother.

I won’t get to see how

it all turns out, and 

of course, neither will they,

farther down the road.

This was my mother’s plea,

spoken to no one, everyone,

the air around us in her

beautiful dining room,

when she learned she’d die

sooner than expected: 

“But I want to be here, 

With you, and Sally, and


She didn’t get that wish

much longer, leaving them

at four and eight, me just shy

of 40. I can only hope

I get an extended stay, 

now that the age of her death

is fast upon me. 

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