The Painting Bill Hollands I asked my husband for art this Christmas. No sweater, no kitchen gadget. But I want something by Rob. It’s good to support our artist friends, yes? Little impressionist landscapes painted on wooden blocks. Up close just brushstrokes but back up and everything becomes clear. You choose. You know what came next. He picked this dark thing? I wanted rich browns, deep greens, a dash of yellow or red— autumnal, sure, but alive. Instead, black trees, a gray sky, one gash of white. There’s even a crack in the block. Was that there from the beginning? The cold months pass. I remember the painting. Who knows why? I lift it down from the high shelf, surprised by its heft in my hand. And look, a stamp on the back: 4 x 4 Satsop No. 45. What could that mean? I cradle it in my palm, turn it this way and that as it catches the light and I decide to love it.
A Rare Sighting Bill Hollands My son spent the better part of today following people on TikTok whose usernames recreate the lyrics of Rick Astley’s 1987 hit “Never Gonna Give You Up.” There is, of course, so much to say about this— the jolt of satisfaction he must feel when, for example, he finds someone whose name is and or to. It is, perhaps, not so very different from what I feel now writing these lines. But here is the part that’s not in the parenting books, how when he walks into the kitchen to show you how many he’s found so far, and you’re trying to make dinner but the dog is barking because there’s an Amazon guy on the porch you don’t ask why, you don’t say Good lord go read a book. Instead you tell yourself Plant your feet, stay as he towers over you now from behind and holds his phone over your shoulder to show you, and then leans his head against your head, relaxes his body against your body, until it becomes a joke, of course, you’re making each other fall now, and finally you have to say OK stop I need to make this spaghetti. But for those few moments it was as if an animal had wandered out of the woods and into your kitchen, a moose perhaps, partially domesticated, a moose in a hoodie, and placed his snout over the fence of your shoulder, his breath warm, fur soft, smell moosey, before ambling away to find his kind.
Bill Hollands lives in Seattle with his husband and their son. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Rattle, North American Review, DIAGRAM, The American Journal of Poetry, Hawai`i Pacific Review, The Summerset Review, and elsewhere. He was recently named a finalist for North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Prize and a semi-finalist for Iron Horse Literary Review’s National Poetry Month competition.
”A Rare Sighting” was originally published in One.