Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review. Her newest poetry collections are Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), and The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body (Anaphora Literary Press).
Along the Water
We walk hand in hand along the concrete pilings, mindful
Of broken beer bottles and the occasional, gnawed-on dead fish.
She squeals as we step into the water, lets go of my hand
to chase after the tiny silver fish darting away from her shadow.
Just a few feet away from us, the sand slopes sharply
Into a pocket of darkness. I point out the deep blue shadows
Of danger just ahead of us, warn her to stay close, stay right by me.
She asks me if there are monsters in those depths
Some great river snake coiled at the bottom of the sinkhole
Great sturgeons slumbering where no fisherman could reach.
She asks about dragons, and I tingle, am aglow with delight
At this tiny glimpse of the world inside my daughter’s head,
Wish I could share even more of her visions
Wish I could be her.
I put the tiny boat
in the water and watch it
float away. Somewhere,
will pull it out of the water,
or as a sodden, soggy newspaper mess, find
a tiny plastic bag
full of ashes
a sprig of dead lavender
your photograph, our wedding rings
what it all means.
I have spent every day of my life
worrying about the oil crises, AIDS, what is and is not on
the endangered species list
raw sewage in swimming pools, the drinking water
having food on the table, getting/not getting pregnant
exposure to citywide pesticide sprayings,
and I wish
it could be just about The Bomb, any one of The Bombs
something simple, concrete
a great, bloated, careless god confined
to a specific locale
entirely destructive and fear-worthy but
only if actually invoked.
And Only Infrequently
We exchange pictures through the mail because words
aren’t good enough. The passage of time is explained
through the faces of strangers, in the pictures of children
only known in person as tiny, warm babies
coiled and asleep, newly born. The envelopes
also contain pictures of people I know
but older, grayer, tired. My sister’s gap-toothed smile
has been replaced by the tight grin
of a woman with perfect teeth
standing next to her own family—her goofy college sweetheart
is now a man holding hands with a toddler.
I put pictures of me, my children, their father
in a similar envelope
seal it without looking
without wanting to look
still in denial that time
has passed at this end as well.