The Painting & A Rare Sighting

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.

Leave a Reply