Lyd Havens

Updated: Jul 31

NOTE: Our website is designed for desktop viewing. This poem's format may be affected when viewed on a mobile device.]

St. Hildegard’s Feast Day

After, visions of anatomic reds, a shadow on the kitchen floor.

I asked how B died and was told,

you know. And I did, somewhere in me. I don’t want

to picture what happened, and yet I have been here before,

both in the loss and the act—

or at least the attempt of it.

My grandmother’s funeral was last week,

and now another.

I type out my eulogy for the Internet to hear:

I am crowded by your absence.

Tonight, quiche for dinner. I cut my finger on eggshells

and tear the crust in its pan.

Press an ear to the storm drain.

Hum to break the quiet.

Think of my mother and her inability to eat

after her parents died. I understand it now:

I am not full, I am not empty. The quiche is bitter in my mouth;

I eat a bite anyway. Later, some goat cheese

with crackers. I have another bite

and remember the night in Denver,

cherry tomatoes and brie

on B’s living room floor. Again,

grief turns my stomach. Even water

is acrid. I watch a beautiful woman in my phone

peel beets, bathe bell peppers, crush salmon fillets under her fork.

I call this dinner, entertainment, filling.

Outside, a rushing. Foliage and wind, blood humming against skull.

Membrane over the sky. When I finally melt,

I choose to run, past the mailboxes

and into a nameless street. I have been here before.

I know. I have been here before.

[Note] Italicized line quotes “The Heaviest Rain We Ever Had” by Mallory Pearson


Landscape with mimes in every corner

a partial sestina

I am not sorry I am still coming back to myself,

an animal carrying a rag with its outside, familiar smell.

My sixth tattoo is healing—loudly. Dry heat folded

into the paint chips above my elbow. I am the daughter

of someone who wouldn’t recognize me anymore. Daughter

to my mother, her courage, her husband, my hands, myself.

Perhaps the sea is only a mirror. Head above the stove, I smell

the boiling water and salt. Humid face, soft vegetable, fork folding

its skin on top of my fanciest plate. Paper napkin in folds

against my free thumb, avalanche flip book. Again, I’ll admire the daughter

plant above the pond the ducks walked on all winter, and my

skirt will stain that dandelion color. I’ll be honest: I miss the smell

of winter, how I could dress like an icicle, a cocoon. No one can smell

the fear on me in this season, though. Good. Today I fold

another page in another book, like a heathen. Like a curious daughter,

hiding memoirs under her bed, looking to be her most observant self.

The tattoo, a permanent good luck charm. Makeup in the folds

under my eyes. I got them from smiling, both at you and to myself.


Lyd Havens is the author of Chokecherry (Game Over Books, 2021). Her poetry has previously been published in Ploughshares, Poetry Northwest, and New Delta Review, among others. Lyd lives in Boise, Idaho.

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