by Michelle Holland

You don’t have to try so hard,
every drawer opens to the scraps
and detritus of all I’ve lost,
even the stray paperclips talk
about what they used to hold.

I am surrounded, so there’s no need
for that constant drumbeat disguised
as my pulse, or his oversized sombrero 
perched to protect from too much sun.

Grief, there is nowhere to hide. Your song
began on my body, dancing around 
my heart in his roomy cowboy boots, 
with your harmonica and baritone drawl,
as if I’m the second stanza of some 
country-western song you know all the words to,
now lodged in my right knee, your insistent
self, just under my five year old scar that
aches with any change in weather.

No need to be so obvious, you don’t 
seem to realize that I can’t breathe without you anyway.
You show up in the kitchen chairs, 
Spanish Colonial carved and clear polished maple
he built to place around the dining-room table.

Your keening insistent under the autumn slant of light
on the barrancas slashed across the canvas
with the piñon and trail in the foreground,
all the paintings he painted surround me.

There’s a turquoise inlaid band
for a watch you won’t stop, keeping time 
in a desk drawer. Don’t think I don’t hear it ticking?
Don’t think I’m not hungry every time
you throw evidence of all I’ve lost my way?

This isn’t a game of hide and seek.
What you don’t know is “No worst,
there is none,”* as I know mountains
of my mind include all you carry,
because I carry you, not surprised
when “Angels Fly too Close to the Ground,” 
plays again, and the light graces just right
onto the wood pile or catches the top
first greening branches of the big cottonwoods
as more of your hammering reminders.

*Quoted line from one of Gerard Manly Hopkins, “Miserable Sonnets,” “No worst, there is none, pitched past pitch of grief,” 


Michelle Holland is currently the Poet-in-Residence for the Santa Fe Girls School and the treasurer of NM Literary Arts. Her poems can be found in literary journals, in print, on the internet, as well as in a few anthologies. She has two book-length collections of poetry, Chaos Theory (Sin Fronteras Press), and The Sound a Raven Makes, (Tres Chicas Press).