Three poems by Jodie Hollander

The Metronome

She set the metronome ticking,
her children the pendulum, rocking
back and forth from Mother to Father,
Father back to Mother. Then she’d twist
the knob to Father-Mother, Mother-Father,
or call out Allegro!, and they’d speed up:
FatherMother, MotherFather, FatherMother.

Her children walked sideways, their eyes
shifted horizontally, they looked dizzy, even
possessed—missing the cars zooming in front
of them, but somehow they always heard
Mother’s tempo, and passed from this
lover to that lover, from that lover to this.

Mother’s Persian Rugs

Mother wouldn’t have liked
those three men—
with their long grizzly beards
and big Milwaukee guts,
not to mention the mud
they tracked all over
Mother’s Persian rugs.
That day it was raining
harder than it had
in years in Wisconsin,
plus the dog was barking
it never did like strangers.
And now these three
tramping through the house
in big workman boots,
and shouting at each other.
Rain’s comin’ harrrrd,
how she would have hated
the way they said their r’s.
Gimmee dat tarrp
the fattest man yelled
writing on his pad.
The dog was yelping now,
and snapping at their boots.
Don’t upset the dog
I can still hear her say—
as they slipped the tarp beneath her,
covered up her body
and took my mother away.

My Dark Horses

If only I were more like my dark horses,
I wouldn’t have to worry all the time
that I was running too little and resting too much.
I’d spend my hours grazing in the sunlight,
taking long naps in the vast pastures.
And when it was time to move along I’d know;
I’d spend some time with all those that I’d loved,
then disappear into a gathering of trees.

If only I were more like my dark horses,
I wouldn’t be so frightened of the storms;
instead, when the clouds began to gather and fill
I’d make my way calmly to the shed,
and stand close to all the other horses.
Together, we’d let the rain fall round us,
knowing as darkness passes overhead
that above all, this is the time to be still.

American poet Jodie Hollander was raised in a family of classical musicians. She studied poetry in England, and her work has been published in journals such as The Poetry Review, PN Review, The Dark Horse, The Rialto, Verse Daily, The New Criterion, The Manchester Review, Australia’s Best Poems of 2011, and Australia’s Best Poems of 2015. Her debut pamphlet, The Humane Society, was released with tall-lighthouse in 2012; her full-length collection, My Dark Horses, is published with Liverpool University Press and Oxford University Press. Hollander is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship in South Africa, a Hawthornden Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant in Italy, and a MacDowell Colony Fellowship. She currently lives in Colorado.