EPIPHANY & dOUbT, by ALICIA HOFFMAN
Insert aphorism here. Wise words from some dead man.
He was found at the bottom of a well. Or, past the landing
leading to the second-floor staircase. Splayed, maybe,
like a strange fish on an old Roman battlefield. Or face
down on the kitchen table after taking off his bifocals
to rub his tired eyes after his last glass of whiskey.
I hear him speaking to me as I sleep the sleep of a million
sleeps. Nights I slip into the dark warm water of a dream.
In this one, I am writing to the fishes, the way they scale
their weight into underground eddies, school into swarms
of being. Every ocean knows the weight of drowning.
It accepts its culpability like a wave. On land, we crash
like landscapes do, abrupt in our churning and downdrift.
Who knows anymore what to do? Lost in the sickle
and swift blade of a clock’s ticking, I tend to pour myself
another glass of wine, stare at the blank page, attempt
remembrance. There is a photograph on my wall of a woman
bending into herself. Trick of photography, this doubling.
Her bobby socks and patent leather Mary Janes are a novel.
In the distance, the absence of light becomes the light.
Please, take what you can get. The world is swarming
our window. It is whirling into a stream of water, liquor,
sweat. Every breath a word intent on its own confession.
It whispers to the wall who fought, who lost, who won.
And I am done with weighing each ounce against another.
Behind me are a dozen bodies buried. Ahead, they ascend.
Originally from Pennsylvania, Alicia Hoffman now lives, writes, and teaches in Rochester, New York. The author of two collections, Like Stardust in the Peatmoss and Railroad Phoenix, her poems have been published in a variety of journals, including Radar Poetry, The Penn Review, Typishly, Glass: A Poetry Journal, The Shore, SOFTBLOW, and elsewhere. Find out more at: www.aliciamariehoffman.com.