Like Snakes on Asphalt
My father’s horizon was always
Nebraska, he never grew past being
a tiny spot surrounded by miles
of cattle-flattened silage
I don’t know the names of either
of my horizons, can only guess
at who lives in the row of dark houses
across the street. I am also
an unnecessary pinpoint
surrounded by flat, black asphalt
waves of heat radiating from
we found the tomatoes grew best in the cemetery
sending their thick roots deep
into the soil, wrapping thickly-furred cilia between
sinew and bone, found new life in places
left for the dead.
we threw our seeds random between
the overgrown plots, hoping the tiny plants would escape
the eyes of the caretaker, the blades of his mower
the heavy footsteps of other people
visiting other graves.
late summer, when the vines rose high
climbed around the rough trunks
of ancient willows of firs
we crept into the graveyard, baskets under our arms
collected enough ripe fruit to last through
the long, cold winter ahead.
Your Hand in Mine
The sun shines brightly as your voice
is still in the air, subtle constant
a warning echo of your passage. That day
smiling at somewhere
is a photograph of me.
Leaves appear on trees as conversations
slowly unfold green between us
as timorous as field mouse paws
resting delicately on plastic garbage bags
filled with possibility.
I long to face this spring dead-on, reconstruct
these last death throes of love
as anything but.
Coming Home from the Hospital
She bumps against me in the seat and I wonder
what would happen if I took her, this girl
too young to be riding on the bus by herself
too young to be so close to so many strangers.
I smile and scoot over farther to make room for her to sit
imagine she’s my daughter, that I have a daughter
wonder if the other passengers already think she’s here with me.
I press myself up against the latched window
wonder what our life would be like together
I could pop the emergency release
grab her and run.
Bad Things Happened
We could feel the spirits only when we sat by the
walls. There was something left behind by those who sat
just there, under His eyes, in the back row of hard, wooden pews
the fear of God. There was such an obvious difference between where
the good Christians and the bad Christians sat in that place.
They were as powerful as they were exotic, the ghosts
of terror, His omniscience, the flapping of stained sheets
just out of sight. Their eyes bent spades into old train cars
huddled shadows in the rusty quiet, dreams of wheels turning.
I wanted so badly to stand in the room as a light
to take a small bit of their pain into me and survive it all
next time. There are bodies in the lake out back
that need to be counted. My visions can wait
but He will never come.
Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review.