the leaves fall from the trees and I find that my shoes
won’t come off. I go out to get the newspaper, feel the chill on my face and
I don’t know where I am. Overheard, birds forge ahead with such
I feel inspired to follow them south.
Traffic snarls at me as I stumble after the birds, newspaper clutched
in my hand, bathrobe barely knotted closed. I would tell them
if they’d only roll down their windows and turn off their noisy car heaters
that I have learned something new this morning, that
there is no reason to stay here in a place that will soon be covered with
snow, that we
can follow the paths laid out by buffalo and deer to safety, that
being able to sleep beneath the stars in the middle of December
without fear of frostbite or death
is worth losing all the ridiculous things our real lives have to offer.
if I lie still enough
will my body melt the snow
will tulips and daffodils race up
expecting an early arrival of spring?
will our combined heat
convince the rest of the plants that it’s spring?
if we lie here together
will we wake crocuses, make snowdrops unfurl
open bright crowns to herald the sun
shake Christmas roses awake?
if you make love to me, here, in the snow
on the hard-packed snow, on the frozen mud and ice
will the roots of this tree feel us move
will it unfurl tiny nubs of budded leaves
thinking that it’s spring?
the bird inside me flaps tight beneath my skin, scratches
with tiny claws at my insides, tells me that the only reason
I’m not a sack of deflated skin lying empty by the side of the street
is that it’s just too small and tired to break free. I take a deep breath
force the thing inside me still with the pressure of my inflated lungs.
sometimes at night, I can feel the wings of the tiny bird inside me
slipping into place just behind my shoulder blades, feel pinfeathers
stretch all the way down the front of my arms, and I whisper
no, you can’t have me yet. I hold the wings and claws and feet and pointed
tight and still and quiet inside me, murmur promises of a day
when I’m so old and tired myself
that there’ll be nothing left to hold it all in.
Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center
in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in
Tampa Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, and her published books include Walking
Twin Cities, Music Theory for Dummies, and Ugly Girl. / PHOTOGRAPH BY KAIT MAURO