WAITING FOR A VISIT
We are ever so quiet and take great
pains to monitor each careful footfall.
We whisper our small conversations, and turn
pages of long novels with moistened fingertips.
It’s been this way for years, contemplating chicken
bones on saucers, mythologies of old wallpaper.
Our daughter calls and even she knows to whisper
into the receiver. She never listens.
To leave the house is a week on tenterhooks,
a restive gauze of sleeping pills, only then
returning down interminable corridors
single file, staring at the wainscot in hope.
When the knock comes, it is soft and deliberate:
a rapid two-knuckle triplet.
What can we do once summoned but shuffle
to the peephole in our dressing gown and slippers?
Your smile is broad and harmless.
Two pinhole eyes and a dopey grin.
A foregone conclusion leading nowhere.
A pair of whalers locked into a frozen bay.
The petrified beam of a corporate radical.
Beer belly button and bullethole.
Mute sympathy kept from the idiocy of words.
Mute idiocy kept from the sympathy of words.
Gentler heuristic for I love you but I don’t
want to talk to anyone today.
A cave painting for the flickering new century.
After the last goodbye or the first hello.
I don’t fully remember.
Crooked splint that warps to the fugue of addenda.
‘Waiting for a Visit’ and ‘:)’ by Daniel Holt were highly commended and specially mentioned in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2021) judged by Paul McDonald.
Daniel lives in Hanoi, Vietnam, where he teaches English at a university. He is married to a Vietnamese woman and together they have a little son. Although he has been writing poetry on and off for several years, this is his first foray into the world of competitions and publishing. Besides an intense interest in poetry, Daniel enjoys the arts more broadly, especially music and painting. He is also learning Vietnamese.