Fay Dillof

So This is the Future & Hope
July 25, 2021 Dillof Fay

So This is The Future


After I found out––
no, got the tiniest glimpse into––

her texts like a keyhole into her messy room––
my suddenly teenage daughter and I went to the beach

where, as waves tall as me
crashed, we listened to her depressing playlist,

curled under a blanket, one earbud each.
So, this is the future

I’ve heard so much about? This morning
was eerie twilight. The sun, a weird orange marble

on account of the wildfires. And so quiet.
Why do we say It’s so quiet

when what we mean is a sudden awareness of––
Wait, hear that bird?–– what we’ve failed until now to notice?

It’s noon, and my daughter’s eating cereal in the kitchen of our new house
while I unpack boxes of objects. Hard to believe

they ever had a place they belonged.
Last night, our dog woke me twice, insisting on being let out,

then ran, barking in alarm into the middle of the yard
where, though I called, he sat perfectly still, alert, waiting.

Want to know what it’s like–– here,
in the after? You look back,

and it’s shattering how life looked
an awfully lot like the life you thought you were living.

My daughter pours more Honey Nut Cheerios into a bowl and,
clink-clink, the sound is music. Especially now

that ash has turned our usual light gloomy
and is making the air, perhaps, soon, hazardous.




even when you don’t seem to be getting anywhere.


as in––
in a documentary I watched a woman with dementia kept unpacking and repacking
the same suitcase.


is to want as stars are to count.

A manatee asleep in the deep down, floating up to the surface to breathe.

is to disappointment as twin is to twin.

coming in or out, checks the mailbox on Sundays.

Once or twice, there’s been something there.


Last night I woke to a storm
and from the sexiest, soft lips, dream.

But the best part, before any of that happened––my dead father was there.


The documentary-maker, the daughter, eventually makes peace with letting days,
months, years be, for her mom, out of order
but goes back and forth––

is there a way to make sense of what her mother has packed?


:bananas a push-button phone
:a push button phone, a teacup, six boxes of Loran Doone cookies
:clothes hangers, a ladle, a push button phone.


And if what she’s packed is decipherable, a message–– a phone?
To call whom?


The sun as I lay in bed––
did he?
no, I don’t think my father said anything last night––

doesn’t break through but comes in and out.


a plant some leaves yellow––
have I over-watered/over-wanted again?


some say it’s a raft,


but mine, when it’s there,
is a beachball which I try,
even knowing it’ll pop up,
to push under.


The way time
for her mother
was all
at once
both was and
that how we are too
supposed to make sense
of what’s packed inside?–– hope,
a kaleidoscope?


After the rain, the crows take back the street.
I put out peanuts for them on the porch railing.

The gift they give in exchange––flying off with the


like skinny-dipping in a lake at night below stars, losing track first of the body then of
the earth.

Fay Dillof’s work has appeared in Ploughshares, New Ohio Review, Green Mountain Review, FIELD, Rattle, Barrow Street, Gettysburg Review, Sugar House Review, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. She has been the recipient of the Dogwood Literary Prize in Poetry, The Milton Kessler Memorial Prize for Poetry, a scholarship to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and a scholarship to Napa Valley Writers’ Conference. She likes to keep close the Marguerite Duras quote: “No matter what I say, I will never discover why I write, nor how others do not write.”