The little mice watch me from their prison of tin and plexiglass
inside the live mouse trap I baited the night before. Four little mice
with pointed noses and trembling whiskers
eyes black and bulging against their dark brown fur.
I wonder how I must appear to them, this giant thing
that they spend their days avoiding, rushing from one dark corner
to another at the sound of my footsteps, and now
there’s nowhere left to go, they wandered into this baited box
and now I have them in my curious grasp.
I tap on the little plexiglass window and they
rush to the corners of the box,
cram themselves into the entrance chute, their thin black tails
twitching and curling, hanging out in the open. I imagine
what it would be like to keep them as pets, these stinky little mice
what it would be like to train these wild mice to live in a cage
to eat only when food is offered, and only what I alone offer them
if eventually, they would learn to anticipate my arrival
at the door of their cage with joy, or if
they would always be just as terrified of me as this?
You can’t let the universe overwhelm you, can’t let
the infinite reaches of space intimidate you.
You can’t let the size of a star convince you
that you don’t exist, you don’t matter, you do.
Even a tiny mote of dust
floating in the air, pinned by a sunbeam
occasionally reflects the light just enough
to become the brightest object in the room
a flash of unexpected brilliance.
Yesterday is a river that swallows all rivers.
Everything that came before this morning is part of the same
itinerant body of water. There’s no need to keep track.
I emerge from yesterday washed clean
of everything that came before, brand new, I insist
that we treat this person I am as a brand new me with no past
no past at all.
There is an island in the Amazon
strewn with the bodies of discarded dolls
offerings to some child long gone. I imagine
you’d like to make offerings to a similar child in me
some ghost child you can blame for tantrums
the way I talk in my sleep when I’m scared.
In my dreams, I am suffocating all of the ghosts
that keep me from being a brand new person,
a person without a past. I hold their wide-eyed faces
down in the water until the bubbles stop.
I insist on a new name every day.
I will only answer to these new names until
all of the old parts of me are gone.
Nowhere ‘Til April
In my desk is a picture of a jungle from somewhere
warm and green that a friend once sent me, said I could go there
live in his family’s abandoned farm any time I’d like
there’s no plumbing or electricity there and sometimes snakes
make getting to the front door difficult, but here is a picture
and I can stay there.
I can feel the edges of the green photograph in my pocket
when I walk the dog in the winter, when I wait for her to take a crap
hovering in apparent agony over the ankle-deep snow. I can go there
any time I’d like, and there would be snakes but it would be warm.
When your parents are gone, all of the unanswered questions
must be written on pieces of paper and shoved in between rocks
whispered into tape recorders held by spiritualists
shouted from the top of a hill into a sky full of stars.
there are oracles in the caverns beneath toppled Aztec ruins
trees that take questions in spirit forests in Estonia
but all of these
are ineffective conduits for grief.
Holly Day’s poetry has recently appeared in Plainsongs, The Long Islander, and The Nashwaak Review. Her newest poetry collections are In This Place, She Is Her Own (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), A Wall to Protect Your Eyes (Pski’s Porch Publishing), Folios of Dried Flowers and Pressed Birds(Cyberwit.net), Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), and Into the Cracks(Golden Antelope)