3 poems by Emily Hockaday

Emily Hockaday

Household Mirages

In an alternate universe, 
we painted this wall yellow—
goldenrod like a kitchen should be.
I see our shadows cross 
entryways and hover over the wall
by the stove. Your hands
were the setting sun, bringing down
the hanging plants for thirst.
In another universe, the two-bedroom
is a three-bedroom, or only 
a one-bedroom. It is sunny outside,
or rainy. Here sirens are going by
again. I hear two discrete
wails moving in different
directions. In that other life,
our life continues. I see the doors
of that apartment opening 
and closing. Shoes by the door,
shuffling back and forth
from the shoe rack
to the mat as we carelessly
move about in space. For the fifth
night, the death toll in New York
has been hovering at 800. Those two
sirens have faded, but a third now
comes closer and grows louder.
I focus hard on the other 
timelines. Here we are four
instead of three; here we 
are packing for vacation;
here our toddler surprises herself
with the cold splash of 
a playground fountain. In this
world, this now, this  city,
the roads are quiet. A roar
has become a hush. Another siren,
so remote it should be 
inaudible. I look away from 
the window and the howling 
EMS vehicles, I look away from
those alternate families. They are not
me or mine. We put the volume on
high. We hold hands and jump.
Curls freeze around my daughter’s
face. They bounce and bounce. 
The walls are lavender, and the sunset
turns them pink as cheeks.

Last Breath

I think of my own breath
and what would happen
if I exhaled in space. It is not
romantic, but I can’t help
feeling drawn to it. The inky dark,
the utter quiet, objects moving—
and me one of them. Out in
the Kuiper Belt, planetoids
school like fish. They glitter—
frozen ornaments moving 
in a loose, massive donut. 
Here at home, my orbit
is getting tighter, smaller, 
less important. Sixty-three days
of isolation, and I am hardening 
to ice. My atmosphere is thinning,
it is harder and harder
to draw breath. I am 
cold. My daughter places hot hands
on my cheeks. She says, 
I’m not sad. Every time she asks
if the germs are still out, 
if the playgrounds are closed,
I lose more heat. I don’t know
how to keep spinning. I’m losing sight
of what I should be orbiting. 
Which way is the Sun?

In the Pine Grove

I could almost forget that this is not the world
I was promised. The floor is springy; an owl hoots
above in the upper limbs of a white pine. I didn’t know
pines could grow this tall. What is missing is the dull roar
of traffic on the Jackie Robinson, the ice cream truck 
melody, the dinging of helado vendors, chatter 
from the blacktop and playground below the park, 
an easy breath, mindfulness, any number of ingredients
to keep my sanity. My daughter remains resilient. She flings
herself between the new, small pines, planted to replenish 
the unique habitat here in the middle of Queens. Her fingers
reach without worry. I try to locate the tree we planted 
three short years ago, my body already encumbered 
with pregnancy. It is now one tree among many, and who knows—
it may be one of those that has now died. I didn’t think 
about the ease in my life. This is what I know we have 
been doing wrong. And really: nothing was promised after all.

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Emily Hockaday’s first full-length collection, Naming the Ghost, will be out with Cornerstone Press in November 2022, and her fifth chapbook is releasing on March 31st, 2022, with Red Bird Chaps. Her poems have appeared in print and online journals, as well as with the Poets of Queens and Parks & Points’ Wayfinding anthologies. You can find Emily on the web at www.emilyhockaday.com or @E_Hockaday.

WordCity Literary Journal is provided free to readers from all around the world, and there is no cost to writers submitting their work. Substantial time and expertise goes into each issue, and if you would like to contribute to those efforts, and the costs associated with maintaining this site, we thank you for your support.


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Published by darcie friesen hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LaCrete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), Darcie's first novel, Stillwater, will be released in the spring of 2023. Darcie is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, international award-winning chef, Dean Hossack.

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