Fay Dillof


Because Percentages, my daughter told me, are reversible
and telling 100% about 10 things—which I’d previously thought of

as an honesty—is equal to telling 10% of the whole shebang—


Because I realized that by leaving peanuts on the porch railing
for the crows each morning, I was training them

to be demanding—


Because When you’re happy and you know it, a friend’s mother sang
while my friend was in a coma, clap your hands

and she did.



What I mean is, it’s not that anything changed–
crows still perch along the telephone line–

perch along my ribcage–
one lands on the roof, yells–



What I mean—the loudest

kept—can keep—
the smaller pretty birds away—



And some—
a hummingbird—

weigh so little—
almost nothing—



I mean–a few times since we moved into this
new house together, I’ve climbed a ladder

to the skylight–and each time
there’s a moment

when, in my hand, the flapping stills, quiets
enough that I can feel the heart

which doesn’t–




the first sign is you forget to bring a towel into the bathroom, the second,
you spill your coffee—

or no, you make it into work just fine—so why
(the first sign) don’t you like any of your coworkers?—

then—the second sign—a woman says she’s just returned from her lake house—
lake house!—she’s still talking but you don’t hear anything else—

no, that was the third, or maybe fourth, sign, the second being
the knot in your stomach when she said mother daughter

after that, you stared at your calendar
because you haven’t been spending enough time with your child

who’s not even a child anymore—
and now you remember the first sign

wasn’t even today but last night—you hating your husband
just a little for how he made your daughter laugh so hard she doubled over—

and the second—
you interrupting them, telling her to go clean her room—



Fay Dillof’s poetry has appeared in Gettysburg Review, Ploughshares, Spillway, FIELD, Rattle, New Ohio Review, Green Mountains Review, Barrow Street, and elsewhere. A graduate of Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers, she’s been awarded The Milton Kessler Memorial Prize for Poetry and the Dogwood Literary Prize in Poetry. Fay lives with her husband and daughter in Northern California where she works as a psychotherapist.