Cynthia Marie Hoffman

The Calciferous Substance Speaks to the Sleeping Fetus

Listen to Cynthia Marie Hoffman read her piece:

If you are going to sleep then I will tell you a bedtime story
you were too young to remember how you got here there was a

long corridor and at the end light a warm room a red dress-
ing gown already weaving its shape to receive you

but there was a tear in the corridor a ragged slit and darkness
beyond it you slipped through why would you do this the gown

held its form for a moment as if a body
vanished from its skins it crumpled to the floor the womb

snuffed its fire you were too young to remember the darkness
was not empty, organs turned their

faces slick blind bulging and were surprised this was when
you had no arms no legs only a smooth seedling what could you do

you lay in the dark and unraveled a curl of shoots clean hopeful
and when a fluttering sputtered up inside you the sound of something

murmuring to life everyone could hear it for a long time
things went on this way little heart big heart we grew tipsy

with the syncopation you should have seen yourself dance it was then
we knew you were all grown up you looked what was this

five-petaled whorl swaying in the night the hand by which you knew yourself
it was time for you to go. Time to put up the good fight turning kicking even

the big heart beat the battle drum I’ll never forget it I saw
there was no way out, there was nothing I could do

but watch and finally you saw it too and fell silent and still I thought
if you were going to stay you would need a blanket

I had only myself to make one of I am not soft I am
sorry my particles rallied to lay themselves upon you

like stars snapping free from the sky
everything white in this dark place

rushed to bind your shroud and that was when you became my
white stone baby my vaguely human figurine

my little ballerina shy in her swan suit do not be afraid
if your arms are getting heavy it is just the slumber taking hold it’s alright

if you want to sleep now I will tell you a secret no one will
ever break us apart. If we are very quiet. If we are very still.


Cynthia Marie Hoffman is the author of Sightseer, which won the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize in Poetry. Her work has appeared as an Intro Feature in Pleiades, an internal chapbook in Mid-American Review, and in Fence, Best New Poets 2005, Crab Orchard Review, The Missouri Review Online, and elsewhere.
  • 15721
    Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí