She runs her hand over the smooth, gray columns,
comments on how beautiful plain stone can be, how perfect, how
classical, nods her head as though she truly believes
she’s some sort of expert on classical architecture, on class.
Eavesdropping, I want to tell her
that the white marble statues of Greek temples were originally
covered in bright splotches of paint, that the pyramids were once topped
with garish gold cones, that the cold stone idol she’s touching right now
was once plastered with white lime and painted in neon hues.
She rambles on and on about how she wishes she could afford
to do her kitchen in the same sort of granite that the statues
on our tour are carved of, but that granite is so heavy
would have to redo her kitchen floor to support even a new
kitchen counter. I imagine her kitchen painted in the same colors
that these ancient gods and goddesses were originally rendered
see her standing in a swirling madness of parrot green
and burnt umber, blood-red streaks all along the floor
where the carpenters added extra supports.
The god of the bus stop tells me it’s going to rain today, reminds me
that I have an umbrella under my desk at work, reminds me
that I’m trying to quit smoking. In the days before
the bus stop god moved in and chased away the other riders
the occasional sleeping bum, I used to smoke
a half a pack a day, but I don’t anymore
because I can’t stand all the nagging.
The god of my office has already set my umbrella out for me, apparently tipped off
by the god of the bus stop, or perhaps some random weather god
I haven’t met yet, has already removed the spare change from my desk drawer
so that I won’t be tempted to go buy a couple of cigarettes
from the smokers in the warehouse during my lunch break. I have
just enough money in my pocket for the bus ride home, and I thank the bus stop god
for leaving me that.
At home, the god of my apartment
lets me know how many times the electricity flickered on and off
due to the faulty wiring that my landlord really should fix
and how many times he saved my apartment from filling with gas
from my stove’s extinguished pilot light, lets me know
my cats are safe with him in my home, that
I need to do my laundry soon.
A Representation From the Anterior Aspect of the Bones of the Human Body
The skeleton stands by an open hole, freshly dug
leans on its spade and mourns the loss of its skin.
Just days before, a riot of fibrous nerves and thick lobes
of muscle wrapped it tight in a blooded embrace
gave it a personality, distinguished it from the rest
of the white bones languishing underground, but now
wind whistles through the long white bones as the result of
a small steel scalpel in an expert hand, cutting away at the thin white threads of sinew
as expertly as a butcher slicing an exact weight of meat. The individual
knots of phalanges are barely held together by bits of dried skin, even the slightest move
could jostle loose the barely-attached tibia, the femur resting in its socket
the oddly-shaped bits that make up the elbows and knees
unevenly stacked in their nest of bone. Only the spine
is safe from destruction, a thin metal pipe wedged into the sacrum and
threaded straight up through the vertebra, bending the spine just enough
to balloon the chest outwards like that of an emphysemac struggling
for one last wheezing breath.
If you hammer a stick into the ground, will it grow into a tree? Will it
stretch splinters into roots, cover itself with new bark
grow high into the air and spread branches like wings
disappear into the canopy overhead and make room only
for tropical birds?
And if that stick is really a spear, will the metal point
disappear into the heart of the new tree, a dormant weapon
waiting for the right king to come along to pull it out
just in time to give his faltering cause absolution—
or will it simply disintegrate into the corrosive sap of the tree
become black and twisted before breaking into dust?
Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Big Muddy, The Cape Rock, New Ohio Review, and Gargoyle, and her published books include Walking Twin Cities, Music Theory for Dummies, and Ugly Girl. She has been a featured presenter at Write On, Door County (WI), Northwoods Writer’s Festival (CA), and the Spirit Lake Poetry Series (MN). Her newest poetry collections, A Perfect Day for Semaphore (Finishing Line Press) and The Yellow Dot of a Daisy (Alien Buddha Press) will be out late 2018.