by Holly Day
We shield our children from the truth
as much as we can, tell them we’re moving
because the new home will be so much better.
They say goodbye to their friends
to the city they grew up in
stuff their most essential, meager belongings
into black plastic garbage bags
to shove under their feet in the back seat of the car.
My father is dead
by the time we get to the farmhouse, my daughter cries
because she never got to meet him.
I show her pictures of me when I was small
the windmill when it was new
my father and my long-dead mother
standing proudly by the door of their
the shambling wreck at the end of the drive.
My bachelor brothers arrive the next day and I tell them
the house is mine. They are welcome to sell off
their share of the livestock
but I am keeping my cow and my chickens
and the house. They’re not used to me
making demands on them, have not prepared
any counter-arguments. My husband
goes out back to have a smoke with them
and when they return, we’re all friends again.
I put the kids to sleep
in my old room, the threadbare green blanket on the bed
is the same one I slept under when I was little.
I hang up their clothes in my old closet
find a bat hiding in a high, dark corner, chase it quietly
away. In the morning, I’ll show them
how to gather eggs without getting pecked
what milk tastes like when it’s fresh from a cow
where I picked strawberries when I lived here.
I’ll tell them about the tiny blue butterflies
that glitter like magic in the tall, red sorghum fields
crown them with wreaths of pink bindweed and dogbane
tell them all the happy stories I know about this place they’ve moved to
until they feel at home.
Holly Day is a native Texan now living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she teaches needlepoint classes for the Minneapolis school district and writing classes at The Loft Literary Center. Her poetry has recently appeared in Borderlands, Slant and The Mom Egg, and she is the recipient of the 2011 Sam Ragan Poetry Prize from Barton College. Her most recent published books are Walking Twin Cities and Notenlesen für Dummies Das Pocketbuch, along with her novel The Trouble With Clare.