Pretending at Life
We pull the dining table out from under the ropes of blooming kudzu, brush off the banana slugs clinging to the folding metal legs, set it down carefully, together, in the flattest part of the yard. Out of the twisted green vegetative mass come two chairs, their flowered cushions disintegrated but still serviceable. I spread a tablecloth out and begin to set the table, see you pull the high chair out of the weeds, stop.
There’s no need to bring that out, I say. There’s no need to bring that up.
You keep ripping at the green vines twisted around the pink wooden high chair, it had been yours when you were a baby, maybe belonged to one of your parents, or even older than that. It had been a statement to leave it behind when we left. The chair was supposed to stay buried on purpose. Everything else in the gully out back had been shoved there because we didn’t have any other place to put it.
I don’t see what the problem is, you say as you drag the chair, finally free of its leafy embrace, to the table. You set it up between the two of us, to my left, where it was when we used it so many years before. It seems silly to just leave it there. Doesn’t it look nice?
There used to be a baby in that chair and it was mine. This is a scene devoid of nostalgia. I can’t be here. Stop.
In the damp gully where the furniture used to be, tree frogs begin to chirp, tiny nightjars shake themselves awake and flutter after mosquitoes and gnats. It will be dark in minutes. The frogs will have to fight off the ghosts on their own because I just don’t have the strength.
Holly Day (hollylday.blogspot.com) has been a writing instructor at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Grain, and Harvard Review, and her newest books are The Tooth is the Largest Organ in the Human Body (Anaphora Literary Press), Book of Beasts (Weasel Press), and Music Composition for Dummies (Wiley).