Five Poems by Holly Day

The Middle of the Night

There was an explosion and I came outside. I thought I had woken up

but because you were already on the porch, I must have been asleep. We must be dead.

We must have died in the explosion, everyone we know must have died

in the explosion, this is it, you said, and it was the metal voice of the vacuum cleaner

I embrace this end, infinity, us forever standing together

on the porch, waiting for the inevitable mushroom cloud

that comes with these types of explosions. I take your hand and

you pull away, a little angry, you don’t want to wait out

 

infinity with me. There is no mushroom cloud and I realize

there must have been some sort of accident, there are bodies everywhere,

no, there are just two. Some idiot had driven right through the stop sign on our block

and had crashed into the front of someone’s house. It was our house.

There are two bodies on the lawn. You are already on the porch, wide awake,

shouting to me to call the police. I must have stood there forever

with you telling me to call the police. I wanted to see the bodies up close,

to see if they were someone we knew, you said I shouldn’t touch them,

I’m not supposed to move someone so soon after an accident. I nod because

that’s what they say on TV, too.

***

Blue Car

The car appeared outside the house, as if by magic

dropped from the sky into a pile of snow, tire tracks obliterated by fresh snow.

A sleeping bag blocked the back window completely, candy wrappers

could be seen on the front seat.

 

After a couple of days, my neighbor came over and asked me if it was my car

if I wouldn’t mind moving it so that her nephew could park there. I told her

how the car had just appeared in that spot, and that I didn’t think anyone

had come back for it since its arrival, although

I thought I saw a couple of people sitting in the front seat very late the night before

hands frantically moving in the dim overhead light

but it may have been a dream.

 

A week or so later, a tow truck came and got the car, probably called by my neighbor

the one who came over or perhaps a different one entirely

the spot where the car had been parked was black and green with oil and antifreeze

dirty snow and a couple of smashed beer cans. I watched the car get pulled

backwards down the street, waited for a door to fling open angrily

in the car or in a neighboring house, but no one came out after the car

no one chased the truck frantically down the street.

***

Hillsboro Bay

The jellyfish flutter just below the surface of the water, clustered together so tightly

you could walk across them to the other side. You couldn’t really, of course,

you would sink right through them and end up underneath the seething cloud

of undulating tentacles, but it looks like you could just run over the top of them

if you were fast enough and light enough.

 

If you took a deep breath and lay flat on the swarm, on your back

arms stretched out on either side, you would probably float, and if you were lucky

the jellyfish would be clustered so tightly that the tentacles

wouldn’t touch you, and then, if you turned your head slightly

so that your ear was submerged, you could hear them sing. It’s like the buzzing of bees

or the thrumming of a hummingbird’s wings or a chorus of angry helicopters. Underwater, it’s much louder than even standing here on the shore, watching them pass.

 

If you were to plunge your hands into the cloud of jellyfish just right

you could wear two of them just like a pair of gloves, and you wouldn’t get stung.

You could do that with your feet, too, wear two jellyfish just like boots

and walk among them without worrying about being stung. The jellyfish you’re wearing

will tell the other jellyfish that you’re one of them. After a while, they’ll let you swim

in their cluster, let you continue to follow them out to sea under their protection.

***

Extractions

I did not cause this and I cannot heal this. If our love was a church,

it would be a tangle of massive roots writhing

every day, and not just today. Fingers dig deep, and even

though I sometimes I think I’m lost without your sickness

there are fingernails digging into my fists clenched tight. I compensate

by digging into the soil, wiggling around in the dirt and

willing my heart into becoming the slowest of the slow.

 

I have tried so hard to smooth over the rough edges

struggled to placate the massive roots writhing, thick as snakes,

step aside to make way for other symptoms of destruction

phobias fluttering beneath the surface: once, you could look into my eyes,

and I into yours. But you, always, always had it worse. You

are a hard rule to set my own life against, even in times of brevity and bliss.

Out there, in the soil, the roots are coming to smooth over our rough edges.

Even sidewalks buckle under the onslaught of rippling phalanges.

***

Upon the Discovery of the Existence of Another Golden Calf

This is how God must have felt

looking down at His people dancing around the golden calf

when they thought His back was turned, surreptitiously kissing

fist-sized idols shoved deep in their pockets

when they thought He wasn’t looking

whispering heresy in one another’s ears

lies about other true gods that were nicer and better than Him

when they thought He couldn’t hear.

 

Myself, I am a maelstrom of anger and defeat

hands full of hotel receipts gathered from pockets

detailing lunch dates spent beneath cheap sheets

a second cell phone full of phone numbers I don’t recognize

matchbooks from nightclubs I’ve only seen advertised on TV.

I long to storm and gnash and wreak tidal vengeance

on all of these things that have separated him from me

blind him into submissions, into acceptance, but I

know that this is not the way to bring someone back to Love.

This hopelessness, this defeat, this slow burning of love letters

from a stranger somehow better than me.


Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Plainsongs, The Long Islander and The Nashwaak Review. Her newest poetry collections are ‘In This Place, She Is Her Own’ (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), ‘A Wall to Protect Your Eyes’ (Pski’s Porch Publishing), ‘Folios of Dried Flowers and Pressed Birds’ (Cyberwit.net), ‘Where We Went Wrong’ (Clare Songbirds Publishing), ‘Into the Cracks’ (Golden Antelope Press), and ‘Cross Referencing a Book of Summer’ (Silver Bow Publishing).

 

 

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