• Holly Day

Selected Poetry from Holly Day

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We fill our home with mismatched groves of pine and oak

and molded plastic chairs, put monogrammed napkins

at every place setting. The scientists come right on time

to study our relationship, offer kind, unwelcome comments

as we pass plates laden with meat and cheese

refill their glasses with wine.

This one is my father, that one is your mother,

there are others, too.

They exchange notes, compare findings,

shake their heads and sigh

at something incurable, intangible, inconsolable.

We make excuses for the new furniture

for the condition of the house

for the awkward weather

for each other.

Later, in the dark, I feel the splatter-marks

of acne scars on your skin

try to read the dents of Braille graffiti on flesh

the broken ribs that spell out “joy”

the tiny scars that spell out the longings

that will never be met. This place

will never smell like home, just as you

will never be completely naked around me. In the end

you will leave me

howling, all alone, at the moon.

Where I Shop for Fish

Street merchants with carts packed with ice and fish

shout commandments at each other over the bustle of the crowd

channel God in the most scandalous of ways. Via conversation, they strip away

each other’s damaged pasts—secret love affairs, attempted suicides—

until no one in the marketplace is truly naked.

I pull my sleeves down to cover the tiny “x”s

meant to stop my breath, too long ago to count

past the happy-faces made with rusted cigarette lighter tops

past the circle of blue dots made with safety pins and India ink

in an attempt to hide my own past from the fishmonger priests.

The newspapers the fish come wrapped in

prophesy either war or salvation, feast or obliteration

depending on which vendor you buy the fish from

depending of what type of fish you buy. The small, flat sunfish I pick out

are handed to me, collectively wrapped, in pages from the Book of John

a picture of a small, pale boy with bat ears and vampire fangs on top.

My Cat

In my cat’s dreams

the world is safer, softer, quieter.

no garbage trucks rumble by at 5 a.m.,

no mailman rattles the front door at noon.

I know this because

when I sleep with my cat

his paw pressed up against my cheek

I dream only of quiet things:

small birds by the feeder, their footprints leaving

jagged hieroglyphics in the snow

tiny rabbits chirping in the undergrowth

warm sunshine

filtered through green summer leaves.

Holly Day has been a writing instructor at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review, and her newest poetry collections are Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press), Cross Referencing a Book of Summer (Silver Bow Publishing), The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body (Anaphora Literary Press), and Book of Beasts (Weasel Press).