by Holly Day


the vampire stalks into her
room his eyes are big black holes
in his head he looms over her, claws
outstretched, the stench
of the undead on his breath. Her heart
dies in her chest

at his approach, fangs bared
lower jaw quivering
in anticipation of her
surrender, of the inevitable
spurt of blood destined to stop her life
all she is. 

Into a Slow-Moving Current

If one puts a bulrush basket in the water
and waves a chubby bundle goodbye,
one should not expect a postcard
20 years later
from a fully-functional adult grateful for whatever preparations
one believes they gave that little one in the few moments
they were in one’s life. These thoughts are not allowed.
Only goodbye is allowed here.

She tells her son this as he reads the letter over and over again
reflects aloud on the want contained in the words, the implied debt.
But there aren’t any words she can say
that’ll make him change his mind. 

Damning and Details

I tried to only focus on the cool, crisp raspy scratch
of starched hospital sheets, focus on how my sweat refused to be absorbed
into the rubber mattress just beneath the sheets
clung to my backside in a warm pool. I wondered if
I rolled over, it would look as though I’d wet the bed
if I could roll over, if my friends would just look away
embarrassed for me, but I couldn’t roll over, I knew I couldn’t.

My friends gathered around my bed and tried to distract me
from the chance, the fact, no, the chance, let’s not lose hope
that I would never be able to roll over again, to walk again
might never leave this room again, maybe frighten me
away from the edge of death, because yes, there could be death
looming somewhere in the room, perhaps even capital D Death,
a specter only I could see.
I would get better soon, they assured me.
They’d come by every day until I could come home.

There were more inane words of encouragement
from my parents, my lover, a stranger who had seen the accident
from the rails of a highway overpass, a stranger who kept describing
the accident in excited detail, as though someone in the room
might be writing a book about the event
and he wanted them to get it right. All I remembered was seeing
rabbits scurrying out of the way as I spun out of control
a deer staring, curious, from the safety of a nearby stand of birch and fir
brittle, yellow cornstalks rising in waves
to catch the car as it finally fell.

Dreams Interrupted

for years, he dreamed of eating her, of trapping her between
his paws and staring her into submission. too many years
spent salivating over her
and now that he has her, trapped under his claws

he’s not sure what to do with her, his heart
urges him to smother her before she can run, to
swallow her whole like a snake would a rat, but his
heart aches at the thought of all of this

being completely over
misses the chasing games they used to play, the ones she
finally lost. He will always be watching her
even during those times she thinks he’s asleep, eyes

half-lidded in nonchalance, faking
indifference. today, she gets to
be the pet, his own, his only, and tomorrow
he’ll only eat a bit of her tail for breakfast. 

The Second Attempt

She doesn’t want to know him, despite their shared rib
despite the fact that she’s just some wet bone ripped
from his body to fulfill some unspoken, empty loss.
She stills wants to remain an enigma, she will remain unreadable.

She will find the first wife, her sister
made of clay and mother of his nightmares
find out all the things this first wife likes to do and she
will do those things, too,  because she already knows
he doesn’t like them, and they are wrong. Familiarity

only brings contempt and children, and she
wants neither from him.

Holly's writing has recently appeared in The Hong Kong Review and Appalachian Journal, among others. She currently teaches at the Loft Literary Center in Minnesota, the Richard Hugo House in Washington, and WriterHouse in Virginia.