Waiting Only For Spring
We point out all the different birds to each other
like teenagers naming constellations:
anhinga, gold finch, chickadee
entranced by the influx of new life along the river
summoned by the melting ice.
The air is filled with their tiny songs of joy
as clouds of insects rise from thawing mud
as though they had been frozen in just that spot
dormant and sleeping all winter long.
When I was 13, my best friend was a rock. I used to carry it with me everywhere
small and round in my hand, dream of having the courage
to hurl it at people who said nasty things about me. My palm polished it
to a near-reflective point, I could almost see myself in its surface
see myself the way I wanted everyone else to see me
or really, not see me at all.
If I had been cooler, my best friend would have been a rock
but I’m just lying, because really, it was just another girl
who didn’t actually like me, got me into all sorts of trouble
things she could walk away from but I couldn’t. If I had had a rock for a friend
instead of that girl, the one who ruined everything
things would have ended up differently. It would have been better.
I would have been better. I know I would.
When They Go
I open my arms and call my children to me, remind them
that nothing bad ever happens so long as I’m holding them.
My daughter wrinkles her nose at me and rolls her eyes, my son
just ignores me and walks away. I am no longer regarded as sanctuary
a bulwark against precocious misery and frustration, they don’t need me at all.
I close my arms, wrap myself in an empty embrace
dream of being the sort of mother children flock to unquestioningly
a fish mother who opens her maw to engulf hordes of trusting fry
a scorpion mother carrying her ravenous children across the hot desert
a snake mother nested in a knot of wriggling coils of tiny tails and teeth
all of these things but what I am: incomplete without a tiny hand in mine
a sweaty head pressed against my chest, the constant need that only I can fulfil.
The Chemical Fire
they found the dead janitor in the back of the warehouse
curled around himself as if against the cold. His skin
came off in handfuls of ash when they tried
to move him
black, greasy ash that would not wash off.
the two boys who first found him had gone through his pockets
only to have what remained of clothes, his wallet, disintegrate as well
dried out past leather, his face was barely recognisable
mouth stretched out in a forever scream.
The Next Day
The alarm went off and we found that the world
hadn’t ended, that all the ramblings of the church elders
weren’t true. My husband sighed and rolled out of bed
found there were only dirty clothes left for him to wear
sighed again, dressed, went to work.
I could hear birds chirping in the yard
a squirrel on the roof, cars
passing on the road out front.
I held onto my dreams of apocalypse
for a few moments longer, savouring vision
of the angels, the devastation
that could still be waiting just outside the door.
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).