Jackleen Holton Hookway


Jackleen Holton Hookway’s poems have been published in The Giant Book of Poetry, and Steve Kowit: This Unspeakably Marvelous Life, and have appeared or are forthcoming in American Literary Review, Bayou, Bellingham Review, The Fourth River, Lake Effect, Poet Lore, Rattle, and others.


Happy Pills

Clearing out a drawer for the baby’s
sheets, diapers and burp cloths
next to the bassinette we’ve set up
in the bedroom, I find the pack
of pills from a year ago—
the ones I decided not to take—
in an aquamarine case, the color
of faraway oceans. Sliding it open,
I see the peach discs lined up in their porthole
rows, like little faces looking
out from a cruise ship. And I remember
the one we saw on the way back
from the Bahamas, that much larger,
more luxurious vessel passing
our smaller one, all the happy people
smiling and waving on their way
to the paradise we were leaving.

I love how a memory will often lie in wait for years, like this moment on a cruise I took with my mother, until it is sparked by another completely unrelated experience. It’s one of the rarest gifts, a poem conceived by unlikely parents and born a short while later without too much in the way of labor pains.