Holly Day

Next time I have my period, I am not touching a single dirty dish

I am not cooking food for anyone, and boy, you’d better leave me the fuck alone

because that’s what God wants. And instead of me sleeping out in the garage,

you can take your fucking tent out back and I’ll have the house until I’m clean

because I’m already slept in our bed once while I had my period

so God says its mine until I’m safe again.

Since I’m not going to not touch things in the house while I’m on the rag, be prepared

to do a thorough housecleaning when you come back into the house.

You probably want to go grocery shopping and get some clean food

because I was definitely rummaging around the fridge while I had my period

and probably spread all sorts of magical vagina cooties all over the produce.

I’m just trying to accommodate any special beliefs you might have regarding

the mysteries of womanhood, and I appreciate you letting me know

how filthy my body is and how my time of the month ruins everything.

Holly Day

There’s a sad lady at work and I tell her she should cheer up

no one wants to hear a sad voice on the phone when they call up

no one wants to walk by her cubicle and see a sad face. I tell her

there’s a fresh pot of coffee in the break room, she should have a cup

it’ll perk her right up.

She starts to tell me about how she misses her baby at home

she just had him a few weeks ago, but because she’s just a temp

she can’t take the time off to stay at home with him

her boyfriend’s at home watching her baby, she hopes

everything’s okay, I ask her

if she wants me to bring her a cup of coffee because I’m going back there


When I bring her her coffee back she’s still sad looking, and I give her the cup

and she says “thank you” but she doesn’t mean it, there’s no smile.

I want to tell her that it’s much easier to keep a man when you look happy

and if this is how she looks when she goes home, there’s a chance

she might come home one day to find a note and an empty house

but I stop myself because these thoughts are for me only.

All day long, I sneak peeks at her to see

if I can catch her looking cheerful, listen to her voice when she talks on the phone

and she says the words right but her voice is too full of thoughts

customers gotta know something’s wrong with the woman when they call us up.

During lunch, I ask some of the other ladies how long this temp’s going to be with us

tiptoe around how she’s just really bringing me down

and I’m so relieved when they say this is her last day.

Holly Day

The insurance salesman walks us through the funeral process

tells us they will pay for any kind of funeral we want

when my husband dies. “Any kind,” she says, then winks at my husband

as if to say she knows he’s a humble man, he won’t want

some New Orleans-style funeral, a horse-drawn carriage dragging his coffin

down the street, anything more complicated than

maybe an open-casket wake with coffee and sandwiches in the corner.

“We only do this for employees at your level of seniority,” she adds

as if implying that I, too, might want to jump in on that free funeral plan

and I look like someone who might insist the company pay for more

than just a hole in the ground and a bouquet of cheap flowers.

I nod and smile politely because honestly,

I don’t give a damn what’s done with my body when I’m gone,

but in my head I am already planning one hell of a funeral for my husband

I’m going to have him cremated and shoved into a Roman candle

or loaded into a rocket and shot clean into space

watch him and his ashes explode in a cascade of sparkling lights over the ocean

so bright and beautiful that even dolphins and sharks will poke their head out of the water

wonder at the noise and the lights

because I’ll be damned if I let this free funeral go to waste

not after thirty years

of watching him die in a dead-end government job.

Holly Day
Never Buy a Goldfish Together

I’m going to leave them a note when I go, tell them

I’m gonna be a hobo from now on, I’m taking my goldfish

got my clothes wrapped in a ball and hanging from a stick,

fishbowl carefully tucked under my arm, Lucky’s gonna be fine.

I’m gonna ride the rails from now on, like those old guys I used to see

hobbling around Dodge City when I was a kid, sleeping in the park

with their three-legged dogs except I’ve got a fish, a fish and a dream

and we’re going to go everywhere, we’re going to see everything.

I imagine my husband’s really going to miss Lucky

especially since he’s the one who named him.

I never figured out why we bought a goldfish in the first place

but now that I’m leaving, I can’t stand to leave Lucky behind.

Holly Day

When I was a kid, my mom worked on a pig farm, and during the summer

when I wasn’t in school and had no one to look after me

she’d take me with her so I could see the animals. I’d bring a sketchbook along

or something I was reading, because most of the animals at the farm

were just gigantic, stinky pigs, and once pigs stopped being cute little pink piglets,

I wasn’t much interested in looking at them anymore.

All day, I’d sit as far away from the big concrete holding area the pigs were kept in

trying to get away from the stench, watching my mom as she came by and hosed off

all the feces stuck to the backs of the pigs that came from their wrestling or mating

hosed the piles of shit off the concrete floor they stood on all day long,

refilled their troughs with buckets of yellow or gray slop, dumped out their drinking trough

refilled it again with the same hose she used to clean them with.

At the end of the day, though, if she’d gotten her work done early enough

the owner of the farm would let her take me to the horse corral out back

which was the real reason she worked there at all, was to see the horses.

Sometimes, she’d set me on the back of one of them for a few minutes

lead us around by a tether and tell me how she used to ride horses all the time

when she was my age, how she wished I could have that kind of childhood, too.

She always sounded so sad when she said that, as though me not having a horse

was as great a tragedy as she could imagine, something she felt really guilty about.

On the last day she worked on the farm, she finished up extra early

took me out to the horse corral, and this time, she got on the horse with me

sat right behind me and made the horse fly. I don’t remember any reins

I remember my hands wrapped in horse hair, knuckles squeezed white

the world a blur on either side, my mom coaxing the horse to go fast, faster

I don’t ever think I felt as close to my mom as I did that day.

I think about it all the time, especially now.