4 Poems by Holly Day

Conversations Overheard

there’s a guy in the restaurant booth just behind me and he’s trying
to score. he’s telling the girl sitting in the booth with him all about his
trouble at home, about how he’s going to finally confront his girlfriend
and just ask her what the hell is wrong, because she’s been acting
really weird lately, and he needs to know if maybe she’s pregnant
which he seriously doubts because they hardly ever sleep together
anymore, if she’s had a nervous breakdown and needs
professional help, or if she just doesn’t care about him

anymore. the girl in the restaurant booth just behind me hums
sympathetically, says this situation must really be hard for the guy
says he’s been a really good guy to stay with a woman
so obviously troubled for as long as he had. I hear her ask
the waitress for another drink, make it two, and I
am suddenly so happy that the man sitting in
the booth with me is my husband, because

it would be so easy, so horrible
to be a part of that couple sitting just behind me.

On Trying to be Good

Fish do not have sex, which is why
it’s okay to eat fish during Lent. Because fish
do not have sex, they are not
considered meat, and therefore
you can eat all the fish you want
and still be a vegetarian.

When a baby is born, it has to pass
through its mother’s vagina. Because it
has touched its mother’s vagina, it has sinned
and therefore needs to be baptized
and forgiven. Also, babies come from having sex
so they need to be forgiven for that, too.

A woman needs to know how to please her husband
in bed, but she also needs to save herself, stay a virgin
until she’s married. Priests are no good
at giving advice on how to do this,
how to be a good lay right out of the gate.
Neither are Catholic mothers.

Gilles de Rais

despite the legends, he kept an impeccable house
even the tiny room where the children were kept
was bereft of any evidence of crime. the bones
were always immediately take out back and burnt,
the clothes and the shoes were cleaned and sent out
to be distributed among the poor.

he was only married twice, and both wives
were as guilty of the crimes as he was.
the first one died of a fever soon after
they were married, possibly from eating raw meat
while the second one, more careful
choked to death on a tiny ring wrapped
around a tiny finger.

it was because of love that he consumed both women
shared their pale, limp bodies with his guests
burned them in the pit out back with the rest of the
stripped, bloody bones—they wouldn’t have understood
any other kind of tribute, not from him.

Family Magic

the woman whispers a few words over the bundle
and hands it to me. she says
put this under your pillow and the dreams will
go away. she tells me of the village
she grew up in , how her mother taught her magic
all the secrets passed down through her family
thousands of years, old magic, and just from her clan.

when I get home I look up her village
on the map, try to reconcile her story
with the Inquisition’s ransacking of Béarn, how
there was no one left to pass on the old magic
how the village stayed abandoned for years. I wish
she would have picked a different town
to prop up her credentials, I grumble
before heading off to bed, putting the bundle
under my pillow anyway, trying hard

to believe in the lies.

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