The First Year Out – Holly Day

 

Numbers of geese flew overhead and you laughed at my excitement, our mutual

relief

at the sight of the old farm still standing, the broken windmill, the

outlying buildings.

They held a future we dreamed aloud – a vegetable garden,

flocks of chickens and turkeys, thick as clouds and eager for morning.

Your fingertips relieved the ache that settled into my shoulders

so many years before I’d lost count.

 

The ache set into new places, almost forgotten, for a little while longer

for a full season of wonder

as we made final promises against a sun that kept disappearing

as if into a great crack in a wall of reoccurring rainbows. You told me

about the geese

that would land in the new pond and stay, the cows that were coming soon

spoke as if we had a real destination, a plan.

 

I am still holding onto that first day, descending over barren hills

borders between states disappearing into thin spiderwebs crisscrossing a map

sacred ash in a smoldering iron pot. I remember when you laid out

your theory of the sun-scorched, explained how we

were just like those clouds of birds that came to rest on the flat, golden

plains around us

their feathers taunting us our slow, tired bondage to earth.

It all made so much sense back then.

 

 

Holly Day bioHolly 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, and her published books include Walking Twin Cities, Music Theory for Dummies, and Ugly Girl.

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The History Of Their Handprints – Len Kuntz

 

It was the second fire

Years after the garage

Had burnt down

I came home from

Night church

The light switches

Wouldn’t work

I didn’t smell smoke

Right away but heard

My kitten Christopher

Mewling downstairs

The hallway door

Leading there was closed

And in the basement

The shell of my brother’s

Bedroom had become

Charred crimson cinders

Each slat of wood

Resembling red rebar

Or long stove coils

In the smoky haze

I scooped up Chris

Went to a neighbor

Dialed the fire department

They brought an investigator

Who grilled me

Out on the damp lawn

Until it grew so dark

I could no longer see

His expression and

Determine if he was

Actually serious

He pointed questions

Was I resentful my

Parents had left me

While they lived

Somewhere in Idaho

Did I want retribution

Were there issues

I had with them

That would lead me

To set my house on fire

I said

No

No

And

Of course not

I never said how

In those years

Each day was spent

Hustling the demons

That buzzed around

My shallow skull

Like a hive of

Angry wasps

Sometimes drilling

Their stingers

Straight through

My hippocampus

I never said I

Was actually thrilled

My parents were living

Someplace other than here

Where the history

Of their handprints

Still haunted everything

Darker than

The thickest smoke

Glowing brighter

Than any oven coil

Burning everything

To ash

Again and again

And again

 

6294_1156782568787_1504415167_30412971_8075954_n (2)Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State, an editor at the online magazine Literary Orphans, and the author of I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE AND NEITHER ARE YOU, a story collection out from Unknown Press.  You can also find him at lenkuntz.blogspot.com.