Bill Hollands

Notes on My Mother’s Desk

Command central in the kitchen with  
                     the empty space
          underneath where I liked to hide. A calendar tacked to corkboard
                                 tracked the lives of your four (four!) boys —

tee-ball practice, cub scout banquet, orthodontist. A worn journal
                      hidden/not hidden 
           in the drawer documented chicken poxes, mumps vaccinations,
                                 my brown recluse spider bite, your three

“missed abortions” — how I have stared at
                those words.
           A Rolodex tallied Christmas cards exchanged — year, S for sent, R for received.
                                A metal letter opener you told me never

to stick in the light socket. (After that I could never not think about
                      the light socket.)
           And those little spiral notepads where you planned our 6:00 on-the-dot dinners —
                               meat loaf, creamed tuna fish on toast, hash. Later

when the older boys made their Sunday night long-distance calls
                      I watched you
           sit at that desk, the phone’s long cord twisting into knots as you
                                 took notes on those little notepads, curled leaves of memory:

Chip — job good — marathon next weekend
Pete — job good — Red Sox game — Springsteen concert
Steve —

Read previous
Read next

Bill Hollands’ work has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as The Greensboro Review, The Adroit Journal, Poetry Northwest, Rattle, DIAGRAM, North American Review, Gigantic Sequins, Birmingham Poetry Review, and Boulevard. He was recently named a finalist for New Ohio Review’s NORword Prize and Smartish Pace’s Erskine J. Poetry Prize. He lives in Seattle with his husband and their son.