Wednesday 12 October 2022

Five Poems by Angela Hoffman


 

Baptism by Water Bath



After spending time in boiling water, their gunny sack dresses

are slipped off, their ruby flesh cut into chunks

spooned into jars with salt, cloves, cinnamon, allspice berries.

Sugar and vinegar are poured over;

sweet and sorrow for preserving.

Lids are secured. 


The kettle, mottled blue and grey, rumbles.

The heavy steam rises in anticipation of the baptism

of the beets by water and heat.

The jars with hearts bleeding are lowered–

some bow over. . . 



I look at the jars now lined up on the counter

waiting for the click of their tongues for having put up

with so much for so long. 

Sealed inside, magenta beauties.

My fingers bear witness. 




Boundaries Are Hard to Define



My childhood was filled with borders, boundaries 

barbed wire enclosures, ledges, fences

I climbed over, shimmied under, rubbed against, stepped over.


I was restless, wanted more, resisted, yet found comfort

with the barriers I wandered around, inside, outside, wondering.

They signalled the end of something, the beginning of another.

Things, people, animals were kept in, out.

Sometimes they escaped, returned home. 

They were broken down, mended, left unattended. 

I was sometimes caught, snagged, shocked in my attempts 

to cross over, resulting in tears in clothes, tears on cheeks. 

Safety was found inside, outside, it all depended. 

It was when I ran up against the jagged, hard edges

that I discovered steadfastness, fidelity, forbearance

eventually tenderness, forgiveness. 



Skinny-dipping In the Church Basement

  

 

Sitting on cold metal chairs in the church basement 

we gather, searching for a way to live while drowning  

gasping for any breath of hope  

looking for a way to save ourselves as our loved ones pull us under. 

We recognize the newcomers with eyes downcast, silent, fragile clamouring for relief.

The meeting begins.  

 

Hi, I’m . . . 

The experienced are willing to fully disrobe  

to a nakedness you dare not look away from.  

There is mercy in this vulnerability. A weight is lifted

and the body is able to rise for that breath that revives the soul.

Anger, shame, fear, helplessness mingle with the sobbing   

transforming in a mysterious way. 

 

The fledglings will often pass. They tread water  

wrapping their arms as if to hold everything in place

fearing what will happen once they begin to expose themselves.  

They will return, as they have witnessed too much. 

They will take their turn when the time is right  

leave their chairs to make a racket

skinny-dip with the rest of us. 



Compressing Time into Wide-Open Moments


The fog curtains, then lifts slowly, revealing five stately pines 

compressed in line, in their uniform greens

armed heavy, bowing toward me

hijacking the view beyond, shuttering the house on the other side

conifering scent all around.


The sunlight lichens the air. I moss myself into green

rabbit hole into my nest on the patio chair. 

The blue sky breathes, crisping the morning

while the racooning in my mind ceases.


I’m just sparrowing away my time, being

the buzzing bumble bees, the balming flowers

the holy-spirited chime

the mourning doves, the chipmunks on retreat

the fountain blessing

seeding my dreams

compressing my time into the briefest of moments.

This place wide-opens me.



When Clouds Break Open 



You can’t miss the monstrous puffballs hiding among the ferns

under the shade of the mulberry trees, forgetting what the sun feels like. 

This fungi family grows in dark conditions, feeds off dead matter. 

Their fruit bodies will eventually crack open, emitting the spores inside.


We are all capable of monstrous acts in this achingly beautiful
human family

of our belonging; all of us a mixture of beauty, ugliness

generosity, selfishness, good, evil. So much of it we try to conceal

forgetting what it feels like to be real. 

Our only choice then is to forgive this frailty in each other

knowing we are both the broken open and the one doing the breaking. 





Angela Hoffman lives in Wisconsin. Her poetry has appeared in Solitary Plover, Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets’ Museletter and Calendar, Agape Review, Verse-Virtual, Visual Verse, Your Daily Poem, Writing In A Woman’s Voice, Moss Piglet, Amethyst Review, and Orchards Poetry Journal.

Her poetry collections include Resurrection Lily, Kelsay Books (scheduled for release in November 2022) and Olly Olly Oxen Free, Kesay Books (scheduled for release in 2023). She has written a poem a day since the start of the pandemic. Spirituality and nature often inspire her poetry. 




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