I Knew She Loved Me

By Holly Day

all the other kids had sandwiches

in their lunchboxes, olive loaf, pimento

bologna. I’d hide my lunch from my friends

bury it deep in the rumpled-brown paper bag

cover green sushi rolls with my palm, pink shrimp puffs

sweet rice balls wrapped in sea weed. Every day, I begged

my mother to make me peanut butter crackers

ham on white, something normal.

my stepfather would hear me from his office and laugh

“Your mother’s a wonderful cook! They should be

so lucky to have her for a cook!” speak at length

of his childhood, his own mother’s disgusting attempts

at making jellied baby squid, peppered mussels so hot

they made your pee burn.

my mother would just sigh, suggest

tampopo for lunch, told me I could tell

the other kids it was just

chicken noodle. “You don’t know that their lunches

are any better than yours,” she’d chide

heaping mounds of steamed pea pods, carameled ginger

and salt-and-pepper shrimp on my plate.


Holly Day lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband and two children. Her poetry has most recently appeared in Pataya Poetry Review, Wondrous Web Worlds, and Philadelphia Poets. Her newest nonfiction book is Walking Twin Cities (Wilderness Press).

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