By: Holly Day
Dying on a Monday
I feel her growing quieter beneath the pressure of my hands
flops and flutters like a butterfly drenched in oil, only a few moments more
and there will be no more cheerleader left to tell you how wonderful you are.
I come upstairs and tell him that I’ve killed the cheerleader, that she’s all gone
there will be no more pom pom parades every time you do something
mildly intelligent or innovative. He stares at me blankly until I explain
there was a cheerleader inside me this whole time, that what he’s been seeing
is the cheerleader, but now she’s gone and there will be no more
twirling flaming batons or happy puppy antics
every time he walks in the door on time, or actually remembers to pick up milk
or offers an actual compliment instead of some snort of derision
at my choice of clothes or shoes or makeup or hairstyle
I have given up on organizing parades or circuses or celebrations
at the price of dignity.
All that is left is me.
Between Stacks of Rock
I don’t want to go back in time, don’t want
to be young again, don’t want to be beautiful again. I want to be loved
for who I am now, I want
this to be enough.
We’re driving home from the store and I start talking
about all of the random things I’ve been thinking of through the day
all of the ideas I have that I think could go somewhere
just things, the sort of things I could talk about when I was young
and men would just nod and smile and try to get into my pants
and I take a breath and wait for an answer to a question I’ve posited
and my husband mutters, “Thank God! I didn’t think you’d ever shut up!”
And I want who I am now to be enough.
There is so much more I could say here
But this is enough.
There is a stretch of highway in Kansas
where the guy who was responsible for painting the line
down the middle of the road fell asleep and drove into a field instead.
It’s not usually a problem to pass this spot in the daytime, although if you’ve
been following that white line in a hazy hypnosis, you could easily follow it into
the waist-high yellow fields as well, possibly righting yourself just in time
when the tires hit the gravel shoulder, but at night, this line will take you
straight off the road and into pitch black oblivion. By the time the tall wheat spears
slap against your windshield, you’ve driven far enough off the road for your tires
to be mired in ankle-deep mud and thick, black fertilizer.
You’re gonna have to get out and push, and quickly,
because there could be a semi barreling down that road, right behind you
someone equally unfamiliar with the this part of the state, this road
the dead-end that ends in furrows and swamp.
Every fall, when it’s time to cut down the wheat, the combine tines get caught up in
things stranded motorists have left behind—watches, loose change, dead cell phones
bits of fender and taillight broken off, hazards of tailgaiting out here.
Something like a quarter won’t stop the farm engines for long
but something larger, like a hubcap, or a whole tire,
or a desiccated body sprawled out for the crows
could put the equipment in the shop for days. Eventually, they say
that stretch of road will be fixed, but it’s not a very important road
with not that much traffic, not compared to the 135 or the 81
so it could be years before anything actually happens.
Should Have Been
Here is a little bird that should have been born
But something happened to its sky-blue shell. There should have been feathers
In that dark cavern, but there is only yolk and rubbery bone. One tiny malformed foot.
If you hold the little broken egg up to the sky, it almost disappears
The color is so perfect. If you hold it over the sun, it’s the perfect size for an eclipse.
If you squint, you can imagine you can see through the thin shell, see inside the egg
See the silhouette of a fetal chick, quiet and curled as if still waiting for birth.
This is the baby that disappeared soon after the wedding
lost in the inconsolable melancholy
that never left my mother’s eyes.
The First Day Without Him
A is for the absolute stillness that greets me in the morning
Now that I share nothing with nobody, it’s just me here.
Z is for zebra, because everything’s become so black and white these days.
There are so many letters between A and Z, words like pain
And hope and sadness and joy, but they leave my lips and turn into dust
Useless with no one to hear them. I think about getting a cat to talk to
But realize I don’t know where people get cats, I’ve never went out and got one
Cats have always found me.
On my first day of freedom, I think about smoking
Or getting fall-down drunk, or painting the house
Settle for putting on makeup and brushing my hair
Because those feel like changes, too.
There may be three days left ahead of me, may be three or thirty years.
They stretch out before of me like great, empty hallways
Waiting to be filled with words like “love.”