Thursday, December 20, 2018
Holly Day - Five Poems
1. For New Constellations
If you were to set me free, I would leave with only
A rolled-up animal skin tent strapped to my back
A pocketful of dried berries and reindeer meat
A chunk of ice in a bucket to later melt into water.
I would give you one backwards last glance,
one last chance to stop me
before disappearing into a landscape of glaciers and polar bears
a sky filled with so many stars.
It would only take moments for my retreating figure
To be swallowed up in an expanse of white snow, only moments
For the wind to erase my footprints, the twin snaky signatures left by my sled.
eventually, you’ll discover that all of your letters
have been forwarded to a research station abandoned by Russians
years before, everything you forgot to say in person
has been shredded into bedding by arctic foxes and penguins
chewed into mulch by inquisitive polar bears.
2. In Search of Truth
In the 14th century, world-renowned traveler Sir John Mandeville
came back to England with stories of a "vegetable sheep,"
thinking that the cotton plants he'd seen growing in India
were actually embryonic sheep, born out of the hard little wooden nubs.
First, sheep start out as fluff, he theorized, then the hoofs and the legs emerged
pulling the sheep out afterwards. He didn’t stay in India long enough
to see the cotton grow into a sheep, but he did bring home several pods
for scientists to dissect and study, in hopes of growing more
vegetable sheep in English soil.
It wasn't until 1557
that Italian scientist Girolamo Cardano
wrote an extensive and exhaustive thesis on how soil
could not possibly provide the requisite heat for fetal development
he was very sure of this. There were rumors
of questionable experiments, a slew of missing dogs and cats
a few sheep from the surrounding countryside
tiny graves and headstones in his backyard
hidden just behind a plot of sweet peas and marigolds.
3. Too Late
If we were alive a thousand years ago
the only way we would have ever gotten together
would be briefly: you, emerging from your spartan
clay-floored monk’s cell, horsehair-stippled habit
hiding your rough, angry frame as you stomp
off into the woods, into the night
to my tiny hut packed with bottles of bright-colored rocks
roof fallen inward from the weight of birds’ nests and ivy
packed to the ceiling with things found on my walks
eyes of tiny creatures watching from every corner.
I would greet you at the door, hair wild and unkempt
leaves and twigs stuck in the knots at the base of my neck
greet you and your rules and order without question or thought.
There would be a moment in all of this where we made total sense
where our differences didn’t matter, as if we evened each other out
where our grunting and screaming was some type of language
that erased the whole world around us. Eventually, though,
just like now
the sun always comes up
and we remember who we are.
4. When We’re Gone
One day, there will be nobody here
to pull up the errant maples
sprouting in the garden, no one to sweep up
the piles of desiccated, spun-out helicopter seeds
no one to stop the crush of ivy from growing up
through the cracked window frame
snaking through the rungs of our dust-covered furniture
pulling our roof apart. We won’t be here to stop
the hairy mounds of tree roots from clogging up the pipes
dandelions from flowering and spreading in the dirty gutters
thistles from spreading through the vegetable garden.
We won’t be here to cluck at the sidewalks buckling
from the shifting of sand pulled by underground streams
at the growth of potholes in the alley out back
at the squirrels climbing into the attic
to build homes alongside noisy sparrows and emboldened mice.
When I was little, my mother would point out
circular patterns of mushrooms growing in the yard
tell me they were fairy ring, to be careful
not to step in them
or the fairies would take me away.
When she wasn’t looking, I would step into the circle
sometimes sit or lie in the circles for hours
waiting for fairies that never came.
This was the birth of my skepticism.
Me, ten years old
aimlessly picking at four-leafed clovers
with just one wish in my heart: