I stood and watched you sleeping, had
stood there watching for nearly five minutes in
the shadow of the
hallway for nearly five minutes of circus
time before I dropped your purse on the chair, quiet as death
and slipped quietly out the door, defying
detection. Your bare back
was open to anyone and everyone coming in, bareback
riders slip in through the cracks of hotel security all the time, defying
even little girl sanctity. Yesterday, I dreamt of your death
how I would deal with it, wondering if you survived the circus
of the imaginary midnight ambushes that haunted my mind, the
big sister duties I’d imposed upon myself stuck in
my head, driving me crazy--Why didn’t you call this morning? I had
this idea of how this would all work out, I had
it all planned out, but I can’t play everyone’s mother, not in
this life. I’m stretched too thin as it is. The
alarm clock rings in my head before true circus
time, and I can’t sleep for worrying about you, little girl—death.
Nobody is going to come when you scream. It defies
all logic, but it’s true. You left your bare back
open all night. Please tell me you lock your door now.
Please tell me
you’re all right.
Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Tampa Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, while her recently published books include Nordeast Minneapolis: A History, A Brief History of Stillwater Minnesota, and Ugly Girl.
I'm standing in the wind.
We had five years left to cry,
stay in, get things done.
The wordy gurdy stands
quiet in the middle of my head;
missing pieces [with just enough
shine] rubber-banded tog-
Back then, when she rose
from her beach chair, the weave imprinted itself
on the backs of her jiggly thighs.
Who would have carried it this far,
up the crest between watersheds,
then quit before the downhill?
This was your domain.
Pocket jingling a handful of brads, flat pencil behind your ear,
you’d bore through the browsers; pay and go.
When you rose from the sea
the crown of your head
touched the clouds
A conveyor belt delivers mutton and fowl.
Hot meringues suffer and collapse
under my ruthless fork.
His breath tripped over words stuck between his teeth
and tongue as sinewy shoulders curved.
The child stood, small, shivering in her tattered brown coat,
a dented, scuffed brown suitcase gripped in her hand.
mushrooms, beets, carrots, cabbage,
uncle’s ashen face.