When her husband disappeared, it was easy
to imagine he’d been stolen. First, by another woman
someone younger, some pale sylph
with dark, wild eyes and long black hair
or perhaps an older woman far richer than she would ever be
who promised a world he had only dreamed existed—
The wife without a husband railed against
these phantom women.
Later, when no explanatory letter surfaced in the mail
no muffled apologies came by way of telephone
the phantom women grew ominous, sprouted
sharp, jagged fingernails on their long white fingers
vampire teeth and rusted switchblades.
She began to wait for ransom notes to appear
slipped into the mailbox after the regular delivery
tucked under her pillow by mysterious hands.
It was almost a relief when the police found his body
wrapped around the bridge footings
under the ice. Married friends who had avoided her
thinking she’d been abandoned
crept out of the shadows to offer condolences
bearing casseroles and foil-wrapped pies
as though they could replace the emptiness left
with comfort food, as though they sincerely believed that food
could comfort. “It’s all right, ” she’d say to these friends
quietly through the tears, the perfect, grieving widow.
“At least now I know where he is.”
We wait for the bombs to feel us out
pass the potatoes, say grace over the odd angels
that have watched over us for years
through the stained-glass windows of old churches
through the eyes of Orthodox iconography. This is a moment of peace
that will never come again.
Through the windows, the strength of distant concussions
fold trees in half, take grain silos and snap power lines.
We turn up the gas, clear the dinner table
I put a knife in your hand, just in case.
The sky grows as dark as if seen through closed eyes
windows shake and fly apart. Hands
over their eyes, I stretch out next to the children
tell them it’s just the sound of His voice, there’s nothing
to be afraid of, it’ll all work out in the end.
Dirty American Poem #3
the soldiers didn’t seem to care
that the hotel we were staying in
was haunted. they didn’t seem even a little interested
when we told them chairs were moving all by themselves
that we could hear voices whispering in the bathroom pipes
that the clocks had all stopped exactly at midnight.
the people in the streets outside
didn’t seem to care either, seemed more concerned with
pushing back against the soldiers, standing ground
in front of their own crumbling, possibly haunted hovels
seemed more annoyed than anything when we
said we needed to find another place to stay.
The Last Days of the Flu
We move like dying butterflies against each other
chitinous wings rasping dry in final death throes
like dead leaves pushed along the sidewalk by the wind
like dead scales sloughed off against a rock.
I hear my jagged breath echoing your own feeble one
lungs rattling like an engine running dry but refusing to die
gears almost catching but slipping again and again
if I stay here too long, here, next to you
I might catch it, too.
Out of Reach
the hand comes down
and pushes me down
and reminds me
that the wings that keep
trying to break through my skin
to be trusted, that wings
are not for me. I let the hand
the feathers, the sinew
the brave new appendages
that would allow me to fly away
let the hand carefully bind
my broken skin
my bloodied back
in bandages that keep
new feathers from sprouting,
new wings from unfurling
About the Author: 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).