MoonPath Press Banner

Hitchhiking the Highway of Tears by Sheila Nickerson

Sheila Nickerson

Hitchhiking the Highway of Tears

Sheila Nickerson was born in New York in 1942 and brought up in a Revolutionary period house on Long Island. She graduated from the Chapin School in New York and Bryn Mawr College and holds a Ph. D. in Creative Writing from Union Institute and University. After living in Boulder, Colorado, from 1964-1971, Sheila moved with her family to Juneau, Alaska, where she lived from 1971-1998. There she served as Poet Laureate and as Writer-in-Residence to the Alaska State Library while also teaching in the Artists-in-the-Schools program and in University within Walls, a statewide prison education program. She served, too, for seven years as head of the Communications Section of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. After raising three children in Juneau, she and her husband Martin moved to Bellingham, Washington.

Travels through Alaska have informed and inspired her work, which focuses to a large extent on the natural world and our mysterious connections with it. Teaching in prisons and other under-served communities expanded her appreciation for the personal story and the power inherent in telling it. Editing the state’s conservation magazine, Alaska’s Wildlife, taught her discipline in factual writing and responsibility for accuracy. Access to the archives of the Alaska State Library introduced her to the subject of 19th century arctic exploration and its extraordinary adventures. Intrigued, Sheila set out to retrieve what she could of this history and retell some of its chapters before they were lost to oblivion. This fascination led to years of research and three nonfiction books, the last focusing on the 19th century sledge dogs which enabled American explorers to reach the North Pole.

Hitchhiking the Highway of Tears $15.00

Add To Cart Add To Cart Add To Cart

Poem from Hitchhiking the Highway of Tears

The Lost Gospel of the Cooper’s Hawk

Finally, there were two hens left, until that afternoon
when the Cooper’s Hawk swooped down and took one.
We gave the last away; what would her life have been—
a single hen cowering beneath the sky?
Then silence stole the chicken coop.

Of course I blamed the hawk, but later
there would be different versions.
In some, the hawk would become hero;
in others, it would barely appear,
or not be properly identified,
the whole story in question.
I leave argument and theory to others—
priests on one side, witches on another.
Having had to scoop the feathers up,
I join the silence.

Cover Photo by Mike Criss

Twitter: @akphotograph