Cover Photo: A foggy landscape with trees and water just visible through sun-shot fog
Photograph by Kyle Fritz/Unsplash

Some Days

Some days come too soon.

Catapult magazine · Listen to Cate Lycurgus read this poem

  new dawn often—still, you cannot     
    wait to rip

into the gift of it—some days beg for tearing   
  into; others have you rumpled before     you’ve hardly even

begun. Some days you want to wrap & return,    factory-set all accomplishments, then pack   
   yourself too, back

  some days you’d jungle-gym your way     away from her, her

  touch but unwrapped Starbursts     in your mouth,

  one more time & her wiping     eyes, minding the clock

for strips to blue or pink. & these days it is her   hunger, home from work,     that keeps you

wrestling corn of its husk, rinsing the greens   of their dirt, or you’d be under     ground, too. Some days

  splitting its seams; others, changing     channels for him

  is the only place. Till 94.9 statics     as you drive, &

pastels of back-lit buttes melt you—   who wouldn’t miss a hue. Moon phase,     encore, overtime—

then sometimes you fritter whole afternoons   plucking the hairs at your panty line—     follicle lightbulbs

a large striking white, to not do something   direr. Once you backdove into a quarry,     said you’d never

surface. If one whiskey can belly your burn, can hip   your swing, a fifth can grind you     into the backseat carpet

your tongue becomes. Somedays you try to OxiClean   yourself stain-free, whiter than snow,     past snow to invisible

  I’d ever been born when I felt     uncommonly

bad. You are bad. But badness is as common   as quartz, & seldom found     on its own,

in a pure state. More rare, the pressure you place   to turn entirely gneiss. & even if     this were possible,

I know how hard it is to change, when every day   you’ve been poaching an egg the same,     & it’s kept you

fed. To risk: scrambled, to risk: burnt, cursed, finally   trashed. But where has perfection     gotten you?

  pink slip, abyss below the curve.     Ringback tone

  when a call came, you swerved—     & then the doe

stepped out. The child. No one wants you   back. What has paralyzed me     most is not knowing

where to atone. Somedays I take on a butterbean   shape, cupped in the daybed; even     with mimosas pinking

  in on itself, a sickness where each cell     collapses & one

succumbs unto despair —come, mimic the vaccine   who turns a deadly tendency inside     out, invades with flares,

fluorescent blanks, infiltrating to make a way. What good   can one bring to this world     without being here,

  bears an overhauled cruelty. Somedays     suspicious

nectarines lingering on the counter join a shriveled   beet from the drawer, get sliced &     shredded plus hot

peppers, greens, crumbles of whatever cheese, an anointing   of nuts if we’re blessed, & yes—     call it a meal.

  of-the-month. It may seem haphazard &—     it was years ago, but

remember—the one time you just went without a bag,   defying time zone after zone, flew     through night & appeared

at his door, against all sense, all expectation; were not   summoned, had no idea     if the seam

had been frayed beyond repair—most wheres you want   to die. Sometimes it is all you can do:     let the moving walkway

move. This time, you are here & here you hit the aisle   in stride. It may not be your fault but     it is, sometimes,

Cate Lycurgus’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Best American Poetry 2020, American Poetry Review, Tin House, New England Review, Best New Poets 2019, and elsewhere. She has also received scholarships from Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences and was named one of Narrative’s 30 Under 30 Featured Writers. Cate lives south of San Francisco, California, where she interviews for 32 Poems and teaches professional writing. You can find her at