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.
Oracular the filtered light of oak
through her peignoir She comes to me as though
her spell was never broken I’m still twenty
I can smell those pungent oranges in the sun
I narrate to him that last night both partners
thought they’d given everything up for the other.
It was ugly. They didn’t get, they wouldn’t get,
what they’d hoped for. I editorialize
that I think rage is clichéd in marriage
after a decade and a half.
There was a study done
to prove that men and women
have different brains
to prove, I suppose, that
women are from venus
and men are from mars,
that men want to fuck
and women want to marry
or some garbage like that
the drinking glass
across the room
against the wall
I had said
a wrong thing
that what is frozen roars for eternity (and that’s too much for us) while gashes in our wrists will bleed ceaseless, fluttering crimson ribbons.
she hits the keys
with one finger
like she’s jabbing someone
in the shoulder
or chest during
a fight because they
refuse to listen
oh, blundering human,
tread your life’s labyrinth
back to the beginning
I have never slaughtered a pig.
My hands, though slathered with a sheen
Of melted flesh, are swiftly cleaned
With a simple paper towel.
The cottonwood trees watch. Whisper. A
lyrical business, theirs. Bored by the Wind
River, they turn toward the termite-nibbled
The Pacific begs me to swim away, anything
to keep us from strangling each other
on the boardwalk. The Freakshow
is where our love belongs, a two-headed
oddity feasting on dust and bone