Cleo in Florida

Satellite image a blurry swirl around
a dark eye like a fetal ultrasound, I
seven months in your belly, you
unpacking boxes. What was this place?

Thirty-nine, three boys plus three
miscarriages, whatever happened
I’d be the last. You’d heard the old
wives’ tale, storm and labor, so

you steadied your breath as you
searched for flashlights and tracked
the path directly to you. Neighbors
(strangers) offered mistaken advice:

Tape an X on every window. Run
the sprinklers to empty the pool.

Run the sprinklers? The boys
slept right through it, but you

listened all night. What was that
sound? Endless freight train? Woman
screaming? Fruit and palm fronds
pounded the house, but I

stayed in. Bleary-eyed you made
your way over the toppled
Ficus tree, roots where branches
should be. Muse of history,

your son learned the lyre from his lover,
that’s true, but his eye
is always on you, always
on a path to you.

Bill Hollands’ work has appeared in such journals as RattleDIAGRAM, North American Review, Boulevard, and Wildness. He was recently named a finalist for New Ohio Review’s NORward Prize and Smartish Pace’s Erskine J. Poetry Prize. He lives in Seattle with his husband and their son.

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