Where I’m Going

my mother tells me she just finished giving a lecture on dark matter
to a crowd of her scientist friends, and I worry because
she has no scientist friends, she’s not a scientist. She waves the paper
she’s written
excitedly in the air, says her scientist friends were very interested
in her revelations on the mysteries of the universe, but she won’t let me
read
what she’s written. Further exploration of the subject reveals that she and
her friends
meet regularly to present papers, dissect the cosmos and the supernatural
in each other’s living rooms, finish the presentations with coffee and
muffins, 
sometimes a little pot. 

I hear myself talk to my children and I wonder if they
listen to me with the same bemused grain of salt that I do
when I hear my mother explain with great authority
how all religions were inspired by mushroom trips
how dark matter is nothing but the expansion of space between molecular
particles
or when she reveals her cellular memories of being burned 
at the stake. She sends me emails directing me to Internet sites that
confirm
her various theories, triumphantly exclaiming, “I guess I’m not crazy after
all!”
there are a million things I could say to her but in the end
I can only nod my head, kick myself for my unwillingness to crush her faith.

my mother tells me she just finished giving a lecture on dark matter
to a crowd of her scientist friends, and I worry because
she has no scientist friends, she’s not a scientist. She waves the paper
she’s written
excitedly in the air, says her scientist friends were very interested
in her revelations on the mysteries of the universe, but she won’t let me
read
what she’s written. Further exploration of the subject reveals that she and
her friends
meet regularly to present papers, dissect the cosmos and the supernatural
in each other’s living rooms, finish the presentations with coffee and
muffins, 
sometimes a little pot. 

I hear myself talk to my children and I wonder if they
listen to me with the same bemused grain of salt that I do
when I hear my mother explain with great authority
how all religions were inspired by mushroom trips
how dark matter is nothing but the expansion of space between molecular
particles
or when she reveals her cellular memories of being burned 
at the stake. She sends me emails directing me to Internet sites that
confirm
her various theories, triumphantly exclaiming, “I guess I’m not crazy after
all!”
there are a million things I could say to her but in the end
I can only nod my head, kick myself for my unwillingness to crush her faith.

Revision

on the timeline, I’m a map of wrong turns
detours—15, should have buried myself in computers
like my friends, at seventeen, should have buried myself in schoolwork, 
taken advantage of my early college admittance, at nineteen
my father asks, you still think you’re going to be 
an astronaut? at twenty, lectures on how
real writers spend eight hours a day writing, not three
twenty-one, my boyfriend asks me how I can justify
spending so much money on postage to 
send out manuscripts when I don’t have anything
in the fridge. 

I hear myself giving speeches on missed chances
to my children, to a son almost out of the house and I
know I’ve heard these lectures somewhere before, I hear myself tell my
daughter
about how once upon a time all I wanted out of life was to 
someday push an ice cream cart at the zoo
have a big, fat orange cat like the one sitting in my lap
children who loved me, and I think, 
no, that’s not exactly true.

Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Tampa Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, and her published books include Walking Twin Cities, Music Theory for Dummies, and Ugly Girl. 

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