Three Poems by Holly Day

The Box

We pick it out together, giggle uncontrollably over the pastel lining
the superfluous pillows sewn to the interior, deny
the shadow of cancer and fear that hides in the shadows
in the dark space between our palms when I take your hand.
I call you “Mom” more often now, forgo introducing you by first name
even to strangers. These last days, all I want
is for you to be my mother.

This seems a good enough place to bury your secrets
cushioned in unrealized dreams
of running away. This will be a place
where shouted orders aren’t expected to complete you
where cracked pots and conceptual pieces aren’t questioned on merit
where bluebirds come gift-wrapped
and sing only of self-preservation.

How I Identify You             

I listen to your heart beating inside its cage of broken bones
the Braille graffiti of your chest, and even now I wonder
what things would have been like if you were whole when we met
if you weren’t so damaged by your past, would you have come to me?

I run my fingertips over the old cigarette burns along your arms
testament to a drunk stepfather who never bothers calling anymore,  wonder
if I could somehow put the pieces back together, fix this mangled child
how long it would take for you to decide you didn’t need me anymore

that without your damaged past, there’d be no reason to seek solace
against me and my own broken heart.

Wife in Denial

I hear the screams from the bedroom
imagine her staring back at me with wide, blue eyes
but it doesn’t do any good.
I tell him to pick up after himself when he’s done
I’m not doing the laundry this time, either.

I hear the conversations coming from the room afterwards
and I know it’s just him, it’s him speaking in two separate voices
his and hers, and it is nothing I want to know about.
I walk above the corpses I know are in the yard lightly
careful with my garden spade, avoiding any fresh-turned dirt
sprinkle wildflower seeds over the suspicious mounds instead.

Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Big MuddyThe Cape Rock, New Ohio Review, and Gargoyle, and her published books include Walking Twin Cities, Music Theory for Dummies, Ugly Girl, and The Yellow Dot of a Daisy. She has been a featured presenter at Write On, Door County (WI), North Coast Redwoods Writers’ Conference (CA), and the Spirit Lake Poetry Series (MN). Her newest poetry collections, A Perfect Day for Semaphore (Finishing Line Press) and I’m in a Place Where Reason Went Missing (Main Street Rag Publishing Co.) will be out late 2018.



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