we’d sit by the lake and he’d tell me stories
of the places he’d been, with convoluted names like
“Nebraska” and “Mississippi”
the difference in the way one pronounces “Kansas”
and “Arkansas.” The people in his stories
were as exotic as the places they lived—men
who cut sheet metal into animal silhouettes
bent spades into birdhouses and
turned old train cars into hotels.
I wanted to badly to be with him in Colorado
to stand in the exact spot where four state lines met
to take a small rubber raft over rocks and dangerous rapids
and survive it all. He kept saying, Next time, next time, I promise.
I waited by the lake for him to come and get me
waited with my suitcase packed, ready to leave
visions of Indianapolis burning holes in my brain
but he never came back to get me, never took me away.
when I became pregnant
I spent the first few weeks trying to kill it
stopped eating, slept
stomach down against the cold dirt
beat myself until it hurt. Then
other thoughts began to set in
of what this child could be if it lived
how the nightmare of his or her conception
could unfold until a wonderful dream. Now
I slept with my stomach to the ground
to protect the child within
my body a shield against
the wolves prowling outside my door.
when he raped me a second time I knew
he had killed our baby, the way
one knows that the sun has risen
even while still deep in sleep. By morning
I knew I was completely alone.
Holly Day is a housewife and mother of two living in Minneapolis, Minnesota who teaches needlepoint classes in the Minneapolis school district. Her poetry has recently appeared in Hawai’i Pacific Review, The Oxford American, and Slipstream, and she is a recent recipient of the Sam Ragan Poetry Prize from Barton College. Her book publications include Music Composition for Dummies, Guitar-All-in-One for Dummies, and Music Theory for Dummies, which has recently been translated into French, Dutch, Spanish, Russian, and Portuguese.