Reserved by Hayley Mitchell Haugen


I confess I am suspicious of this fresh happiness,
worrying, perhaps, about depression sneaking

back in, stealing what is shining, like I should know
better than to flash all this brightness around.

When I retire for afternoon naps, more out of habit
now than a place to lay my sadness, I can’t nod off

in all that light, my new sheer draperies singing
the day. Might not my cheerfulness attract

some evil eye? Might not disaster follow
my good fortune? My neighbor quipped,

I know you’re not pregnant, but you’re glowing.
Soon after, he left his wife––I can’t help feeling

a little responsible. Now, when friends ask,
Are you happy, I save some of that sunshine

in reserve. I nod and smile, try to glow a little less,
say, yes, I’m good, I’m really doing okay now.


Hayley Mitchell Haugen is a Professor of English at Ohio University Southern. Light & Shadow, Shadow & Light from Main Street Rag (2018) is her first full-length poetry collection, and her chapbook, What the Grimm Girl Looks Forward To is from Finishing Line Press (2016). Her latest chapbook, The Blue Wife Poems, is from Kelsay Books (2022). She edits Sheila-Na-Gig online and Sheila-Na-Gig Editions.

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