by Alicia Hoffman


Celestial, we were. In the womb, woven cells, each day a multiplication of promise. When my heart started its long walk into the light I reached for the glossary I knew would continue to leave me, as our tongues formed into muscle, as our muscles tensed and readied. I reach for words as I reach for light, as I fail to form what could keep you here with me. If only I remembered the solid shape of whatever lingers in the moonlit window upon waking, words that urge me to mouth the shape of flower and bloom: linden, lilac, azalea, amaranth. I am opening to the possibility that longing is the last door on the right, and we are in the narrow hallway fumbling for the keys, getting sidetracked by the coloring, by the way we argue the difference between cerulean and azure, the difference between the denotations of gray and grey. I want to tell you so many ways to say stay, but you started trailing off the moment I forgot the language of bluebell, honeysuckle, sweet angel, the heart is the body and the body is the barrier between us. Forgive my sloppy dances, my awkward approach. Before we were born, our cadence had its own cosmology; we circled and twirled and burned. Now, with only the stars to guide us, I want you to know when I ask if you love me I only mean amaryllis. I mean aster. I mean rose.







Originally from Pennsylvania, Alicia Hoffman now lives, writes, and teaches in Rochester, New York. Author of “Railroad Phoenix” (Kelsay Books), her poems have appeared in a variety of journals, including The Penn Review, Radar Poetry, SOFTBLOW, The Watershed Review, Inflectionist Review, and elsewhere. Find her at:


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