With No Champion
The eggs are disgorged from her abdomen like
sticky grains of white rice, each containing
a shimmering, miniature version of herself. Does she know
that every one of these tiny creatures
is intent on her death, that the children clinging to her back
are waiting for her to collapse from exhaustion
to feed on her sleeping corpse?
In the beginning, it’s dreams of nursery songs
cute little rompers with animal pictures on them
comical events involving fecal discharge
like the ones you see on TV. Scorpion mothers especially
buy into these façade of parenthood, believe
right up to the end
that her children will turn from her twitching body
mandibles half-open in dismay
perhaps make themselves sandwiches instead
perhaps just let her sleep.
The Long Winter
We explore the old laundry chute first
pull up old boards hammered into place
hoping to find boxes of jewels, secret love letters
find nothing but the mummified bodies of tiny mice
old birds’ nests.
We pace carefully over the wooden floorboards next
listen for changes in tone in the creaks in cracks
drop marbles in strategic spots and listen
for the hollow echoes that never come. There could be
handkerchiefs stuffed with coins, forgotten family heirlooms,
a lone, faded photograph of someone’s lost love
taped to the underside of a loose floorboard
we just have to find it.
Last of all, we pry open the old incinerator door
rusted tight after the central heating was installed
pull the tiny door open, vacuum out
seventy years of insect wings, straggly bird feathers
a hose-clogging skeleton of something small.
By the time spring comes
I will know everything about this house.
Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Tampa Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, while her newest nonfiction book, Tattoos FAQ, is coming out from Backbeat Books at the end of 2017.