Poetry by Holly Day χ Photography by Aparna Mendu
he went crazy while I was still
at work. his friends had come over for lunch, saw him
go from reasonably odd to completely insane in
a matter of minutes. our son was sleeping in his crib
otherwise, they would have left, too.
I came in the door after
a long day at work, saw him pacing, pacing
lecturing wildly and waving his arms around his
head like he was trying to scare off
“he’s all yours now,” his friends said when
they saw me, shaking their heads in sympathy but
to get involved. Ten
years later, I’m sitting in court, telling
stories of how things went from bad to worse.
“I don’t remember any of this,” says the husband
I haven’t seen since our son was two years old.
“I’d like to apologize for
anything I did to you back then.” the lawyers smile at me
as if this will make it all better, will excuse the violent fights
the things he stole from me, the nights I slept with my son
curled up in my arms, afraid
of what was coming next.
at night the
angry thud of the
sounds like monsters
of the house quietly settling sounds like
I can almost see the deranged face
of my family’s murderer pressed against
when it was finally warm again, we let the horses
out of the stable to feed on the new grass growing
in the front yard. I’d always be the Indian
my cousin, the cowboy, and we’d run screaming after
one another in an obstacle course between the horses.
I fell in love with Jason because the horses did, I think
Daisy and Dodge would let him drop from an overhanging tree branch
onto their backs without a twitch. I tried with Daisy
once, ended up flying halfway across the yard, and that was enough
for me. “She just don’t like Injuns,” Jason said
holding me in his strong, sunburned arms
while I tried to catch my breath
and I tried not to cry.
he married young, so young, and his wife
tried to kill me the first time she met me
a twenty-year-old maniac who drove with a kitchen knife laying in her lap
told me he had confessed to being in love with me
told her all sorts of quiet things about me
I tried to explain that things happen when kids grow up together
sure as curious farm animals, cats and dogs in heat
but she just didn’t want to listen.
the irony is not lost on me: checking
strips of treated paper every Monday, every Friday
praying and praying and failing to see
a “plus” sign appear in
the second window of the pregnancy test.
the irony is not lost on me: five years before
seeing this same sign made me
think briefly of suicide, led me to a life
I never would have lived, left me with a child
I would now die to have more of
if they could only be just like him.
the irony is not lost on me: two years, a single mother dating
squeaking by safely, using various forms
of uncomfortable contraception, and now
Husband #2 and I
can’t conceive. it’s ironic to think
that after the absolute hell #1 put me through
abuse, divorce, and complete financial abandonment
I owe him something
for giving me my son.
soft flesh beside me, I
am so hot, unfurls into something I know
baby bird above me, wolf
clutched in its beak, I
touch the white skeleton man, push it up, I know
what you want, man-child, wolf
creature, put it in my head, through my head, I
dream in kaleidoscopes, know
love for fractions of seconds, wrap me in sick sweat, wolf
spit, take this burning I
am almost burning–rip me up, make me know.
Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft LiteraryCenter in Minnesota since 2000. Her published books include Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar All-in-One for Dummies, Piano All-in-One for Dummies, Walking Twin Cities, Insider’s Guide to the Twin Cities, Nordeast Minneapolis: A History, andThe Book Of, while her poetry has recently appeared in New Ohio Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle. Her newest poetry book, Ugly Girl, just came out from Shoe Music Press.