Olivia Hayes

Applause Issue 32 Label

To Everything That Cuts Fruit

I am from the suburbs. From the small, ugly dogs and their smaller,
uglier mothers. The next-door neighbors brought us shampoo
and toothpaste in wheelbarrows. How I would move the bugs
around in the backyard with their kids and pretend to kill
monsters with arrows made of wood.
And everything was good.

I am from holding the knife, excited to be old enough
to cut the fruits. The freedom of the woods in the yard outside.
There, of course, I could play rough
and hold the knife without holding the fruit.
How I would touch the leaves with my palms and let them decide if I was made of
poison. My palm numbed by the splinters from the fence
that held us in its boundless hand
and everything made sense.

I am from the switch of the fireplace fixture. No
task too small for a simple luxury. How the wires connected
to make fire and I felt like it understood what was in my head,
what I’ve been led to believe about fires and knives and machetes and hoping
that I was dead. From the chewing and spitting out chicken bones,
chasing them with a glass of wine
and everything was fine.

I am from the screaming of my belly walking into the kitchen, into
the dining room where we never ate.
And how no one taught me how to fish, though I had spent my
life learning to sit and wait.
Still, it wasn’t the fire or the woods- or even that fence’s godly, silent guarantee

that made me. It was the moving around in the dark, quietly
taking my fist and throwing it against the tree bark; how I knew if
I stayed there, no one would ever find me or the machete.
It was how all of the street lamps outside
felt in comparison to my nightlight; less radiant
and misunderstood.

It was all of those things; and how even if it never was,
everything was good.

Olivia Hayes is a 21-year-old who begrudgingly finds herself in Cincinnati, Ohio. Arguably the most important thing about her is that she always commits to the bit. Always.

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