Thursday Nov 23

HoffmanCynthiaMarie Cynthia Marie Hoffman's first book, Sightseer, won the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize in Poetry and was published by Persea Books in 2011. She has been a Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the recipient of a Wisconsin Arts Board Individual Artist Fellowship, and a Director's Guest at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Italy. Her work has appeared as an Intro Feature in Pleiades and an internal chapbook in Mid-American Review, as well as in Fence, Best New Poets, Crab Orchard Review, and elsewhere. Her blog can be found here
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The Liver Speaks to the Ectopic Embryo

 
For many years you did not exist and then you appeared,
a pale speck towing your red moon by a string. I did not
have eyes before I saw you. I had not known magic
that could slip you from its dark pocket. How did you
get here? You touched me you were delicate and tangled
light as a ball of dust your moon collapsed against me
spilling its threads it was nice to be touched. At first
it was nice to be touched. Months
have passed that you and I have ridden the unremitting night
clutching so I cannot say which part of me is me and which
is you your moon was a bulb I did not foresee it burrowing
deep inside me nor its blooms unfolding I had not known
what it was to be overrun. Ectopic. Do you know
what it means it means you should go back
where you came from. When will the earth arrive
it is always so close but only you are getting bigger. At times
a feeble light filters through the darkness open your eyes
is it the glare of the bright earth impossible to get to
from here. Do you know what it means? Even though
we are together you will never not be lost I had not understood
you were meant to leave but I must stay
you must stay with me in these crowded heavens
where the dismal planets now are bumping
against each other and I cannot say
if I can carry you much longer we are not, after all, weightless.
 


 
12 Weeks

 
Your baby, small as a thumb, rocks inside you
as you bend at the table, touching a match to the wick.
 
In your twelfth week your baby knows its sex though does not
know what it means. You allow its secrets. You have
 
secrets of your own, carrying
the tray of bitter cheese. The many arms
 
of the Christmas tree sway their heavy sleeves
as if to tend the brightly colored flock gathered beneath it,
 
remembering the fields. The girl
sits on her calves on the floor, drawing a dog on a leash.
 
This is the Great Before about which no answer is sufficient.
When the baby comes, we are all made unfathomable,
 
creatures come forth with tired eyes from a world
that could not have existed. The table. The cheese
 
a deck of cards with blank faces. Though we
might try to explain – here was the whoosh
 
of your sister’s palm sweeping across the page, here
your mother climbed the stairs, heels in the air
 
like a diver preparing to jump – who could believe such a thing?
In the end, the world before we were in it
 
is the same as the world after. The dog on the page has the curliest eyelashes
you ever did see.
 
 

The Sound of the Maul that Cracked Open the Stone Child of Sens, 1582

It was not until they had broken off a large portion of the covering shell, and seen the wonderful sight inside, that they understood what they were dealing with.
—Jan Bondeson, The Earliest Known Case of a Lithopaedion
 

The sound was not an ax to a tree was not a knife to an oyster
big as a human skull not quite a skull sound. Madame Chatri
lies on the table her abdomen yawns at the world its graying
tangle of organs. But that is not the point. Two of our hands
steady the rock two hands swing the hammer. Make haste
twenty-eight years the tumor has waited to be born and finally
Madame Chatri has died. A cracking sound at last. The door is now
opened to the small room. Hair on the head I can see it. A tooth
in the jaw I can see it. Now here comes the iron extractor to wrench it
free. Off lops its right hand. Fetus! The hand to the wooden floor
thump what a sound. Oh prodigious delivery. Womb
of the dead woman. The rumors are true they are true.