Poems By Holly Day
The Weight of Dirt
under the carved stones dotting
the soft hills spaced every three feet lies a woman
planting dirt stuck to her dress legs stretched out arms
crossed resisting still the
inexorable crush of
decay eyes sewn shut her hair perfectly coiffed
tied in a small knot behind
her head eyes still shut unmoving as the shovel tip
he trusted her so completely but then
she died he says he leans against the
handle puts all his weight behind the blade
uncovers enough of the coffin to open
the lid flashlight patient over her clothes
remembers the color of her eyes
pulls the ring off of her finger
to give to the next wife.
Why I Am
my mother reached out with one hand, felt
my forehead as she passed by.
he has a fever, she announced, glaring at
my stepfather. he just sat and stared at her from
the confines of his armchair, dumb
reluctant to believe that I
wasn’t faking this, too. later, at
the hospital, we found out that
I had been walking
around with a ruptured spleen, that I could have died, even.
my fucking parents
never believed me when I said I
was sick, and they had nearly killed me. I could be dead right now. this
is why I need
you to believe the things
I tell you. don’t argue with
me. if you’re not going
to play along, you will have to leave.
Where We’re Going
A famous poet
moved into the nursing home
where my sister works. She called me up to tell me about him
said she recognized
his name from a magazine
I gave her for the home’s lobby. She says he’s
a nice man, that I should come by to meet
him, give him someone to talk with about poetry.
Weeks later, she tells me not to come
the poet has become a problem, he
cries all the time. “If he’d just take his medication,
he’d be fine,” she sighs. “How can someone so smart
be so dumb?” She says they’re going to take
his computer away because
all he does is look up Internet
porn. “It’s so sad,” she tells me. “I think he’s
to write something.”
The problem with having friends older than you is that
they don’t keep for long. I look up one old friend after another, brilliant
poets I used to worship before befriending, find they’re drugged up
in nursing homes, or just plain dead. My mother
used to claim the reason so many of my friends were so old
was because I needed a grandfather substitute, said
someday I’d appreciate the kids my own age. Instead
I spent my teen-aged summers listening enrapt to stories
about beatniks smoking dope
in Mexico , how easy it was to buy pot in “black” clubs
how homosexual affairs in the Navy were justified during World War I.
but then my friends started dying, and I’d go to school and try
to explain to teachers how sad I was that my friends
were all dying, and they thought I was having out with suicidal drug addicts
they didn’t understand that my friends were just old. They’d tell me
I should find a different crowd to hang out with, a safer one
that I’d probably be happy if I join the literary club, or worked
at the school newspaper.
I still don’t know what my friends got from hanging out with me
except maybe they were just happy to have someone
listen to them without being aghast, someone to unburden stories
about trying to get an abortion in 1930’s Mexico , hallucinating on yellow pot,
what it’s like to have a tapeworm twisting in your gut when you’re on a diet
spoiled me for high school and college prattle, and I can only hope
that the stories I have when I’m old are half as interesting
as the ones they shared with me.
Holly Day is a housewife and mother of two living in Minneapolis, Minnesota who teaches needlepoint classes for the Minneapolis school district and writing classes at The Loft Literary Center. Her poetry has recently appeared in Hawai’i Pacific Review, Slant, and The Tampa Review, and she is the 2011 recipient of the Sam Ragan Poetry Prize from Barton College. Her most recent published books are " Walking Twin Cities" and "Notenlesen für Dummies Das Pocketbuch."
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