By Daye Phillippo


There is a day that comes when you realize

you can’t bake enough bread

to make things turn out right, no matter

how many times you read Little House on the Prairie

to your children. There aren’t enough

quart jars to fill with tomatoes

or translucent slices of pear to keep you

from feeling unproductive. There is no bonfire

that burns orange enough in the chill October night

to keep your mind from following the lonesome

howls and yips of the coyotes concealed

by darkness in the harvested cornfield

just beyond the circle of your fire. And when you

step away from your family and fire,

into the dark pasture and tip your head back,

feel the whole black bowl of sky

with its icy prickles of stars, its swath of Milky Way,

settle over you, you know that no one

and everyone is just this alone on the Earth

though most keep themselves distracted enough

not to notice. In your hollowness

you open your arms to God because no one else

is enough to fill them. Eternity

passes between and no one knows this but you.

The hum of their conversation, the whole world, talking.

When it is time, you turn, grasp the woodcart’s handle,

pull it, bumping behind you across the frosty grass,

up the hill to the house, where you

step inside cubes of light, and begin to do ordinary things,

hang up coats, open and close drawers,

rinse hot chocolate from mugs. And you are still

separate, but no longer grieving bread.


This poem first appeared in The Exponent. Vol. 124 – No 75 (May 3, 2010): 3. Print.

Daye Phillippo, a non-traditional student, earned a BA in Creative Writing from Purdue University in 2011 and an MFA from Warren Wilson in 2014. She is the recipient of a Mortarboard Fellowship and an Elizabeth George Grant for poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Natural Bridge, Shenandoah, Cider Press Review, Great Lakes Review, Literary Mama and others. She teaches English at Purdue University, and lives in a creaky, old farmhouse on twenty rural acres in Indiana with her husband and one son, the youngest of their eight children. 

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