Poem of the Week | June 13, 2016

This week, we are excited to present a new poem by Cynthia Marie Hoffman. Hoffman is the author of two full-length collections of poetry, Paper Doll Fetus and Sightseer, which won the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize in Poetry, as well as the chapbook Her Human Costume. Her poems have appeared in Jubilat, Pleiades, Fence, Blackbird, diode, The Journal, and elsewhere. She co-edits the online interview series on poetry project books, The Cloudy House. Visit Cynthia online at www.cynthiamariehoffman.com.

Author’s note:

All mothers are familiar with worry. But for those of us whose worries take on the most vividly imaginary forms, our desire to simply keep our children safe can feel soured by something sinister. And herein lies the paradox of worry—as if by imagining all the possible terrifying and violent things that could happen, we ensure that they will never happen. We are superstitious, falsely emboldened with superhuman powers. Crushingly aware of how small and powerless we are.

This poem is part of a larger manuscript that explores obsessions, compulsions, and fabrications of the mind. There are lots of poems because there are just so many things to worry about. I did wake up my daughter for the Blood Moon. And she was unimpressed.


Bearer of Unspeakable Thoughts


The night of the Blood Moon, you slip between the red curtain and the window, holding your daughter. Cold air weaves through the molecules of glass. On a small enough scale, a window comprises its own outer space—vast and translucent—far beyond which the eclipsed moon hangs in our sky. The way you’d described it, the girl had expected a bloody murderous sky and is unimpressed in her half-dreams by the single droplet hanging, inexplicably distant, in the dark. The blood pours over your shoulders, you wear the blood red curtain like a cape of blood, like a long blood mane, you are the wild animal posing as her mother. She wrapped in a cloak of blankets. She will spend her life always running into the blood of shattering windows, always careening toward the shattering smack of the earth. You are sorry to her, sorry, for all the violence you do to her in your mind. You can still feel the baby in her that she will always be. Look at the blood moon, you say to her, one last time, before returning her to her dreams. You can sleep now, too. Just by having held her in your arms, you hold her together. It is only a small shadow of blood across the night and will be gone by morning.