Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 10
Fall 2014

[Two Poems]

by Holly Day

8 and 10

We woke up
and there was breakfast on the table
and my mother was awake, out of bed,
ready to step out into the snow
and walk us to school.
It happened
just like that.
Two years before
my mother went crazy
started by accusing my father of stealing the ocean
and hiding it from her, just out of spite
I can still remember how my father looked
as he tried to defend himself
from her useless accusations.
For much of the long, Nebraskan winters
we sat through
days when my mother wouldn’t get out of the tub
hiding from the cold in near-scalding bathwater.
“The ocean feels like this,” she’d tell us, urging us
to climb into the tub with her, or at least
sink hands beneath the bubbles
hold them there until our skin was as pink as hers.
She spent most of the first spring and summer
on her knees, trying to coax things to grow
out of our small, gravel-filled patch of a yard
before my father poured concrete over it all
bought her a television.
Then somehow she got better
all on her own, and in the meantime
I learned how to cook for both
my little sister and me.
I woke up one completely nondescript, ordinary day
and there was breakfast on the table
the laundry was done
and my father was happy.
—Previously published in Munyori Literary Journal (8 January 2014);
reprinted here with author’s permission


I am too old to be photographed gracefully, there are
too many lines and not enough decent stories
to go with them. I tell you this
as you try to take my picture once again, tell you
that these are pictures that belong only
above an obituary, don’t show these to anyone
until they’re requested
by those I leave behind.
I close my eyes and lie back on the bed and I
hear you take the pictures anyway, at me
stretched out naked on the sheets, leave nothing imagined, I
imagine autopsies, embalming, the careful hands
of a cosmetology student as she tries
to make me look lifelike enough to set before an audience.
You tell me you still find me beautiful, even now
I don’t believe you.
—Previously published in Eunoia Review (23 October 2013);
reprinted here with author’s permission


SHJ Issue 10
Fall 2014

Holly Day

was born in Hereford, Texas, also known as “The Town Without a Toothache.” She and her family currently live in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she teaches at the Loft Literary Center. Her published books include Music Theory for Dummies, Music Composition for Dummies, and Guitar All-in-One for Dummies.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury