I Keep My Black Hole on a Leash

Three poems by Cynthia Marie Hoffman

I Keep My Black Hole on a Leash

Seven Darknesses

No one knows how dark the darkness is. A bat flaps from the hay barn
dressed in a shawl of webs. Call to the night. It answers with a thud against the neighbor’s house. It screams like a fox at the gate. The black spots on your heart grow blacker. You might never cast off your darknesses. One trots beside you like a black hole on a leash, barking. No one was meant to live at absolute zero, absolute dark. The earth itself cannot imagine it. Its oceans are strung with lanternfish like fairy lights. Tonight, this spongy cloud blotting copies of the moon across the sky. The warmth of your body emits a single photon detectable by the most sensitive machinery. And then another. And then this fog slipping into your pocket like a ghostly hand, seeking comfort.


How would you characterize the counting? Drawing a star on the face of
everyone you meet. Right now, are you counting these windows? Yes, but
only the edges that make the windows. What is the thing you are most
afraid of? The star peels from your face and floats through the window. In
the mornings, you descend the stairs counting the railings of the banister.
They rise as hammers inside a piano to make a silent music in your palm.
Beyond the window, star-shaped leaves dangle in the tree, turning on their
thin necks. What are you afraid of? The wind in their faces.


Stand with your neck bare to the window. The principle of exposure
is governed by how long the camera gazes at its subject. Visualize the
shadow creeping behind you on the porch. The squeak of leather as
he raises an arm. Exposure is saying revolver over and over until the
word discharges its meaning. The exposure takes as long as it takes.
Night passes. Clouds pass between you and the moonlight so you
stand by turns in blindness and clarity. Stand until your heels root
into the floorboards, until your limbs lengthen into vines. Your body
flowers with honeysuckle, luring wild animals to the foyer. And you
will wear an ammunition belt of hummingbirds around your hips,
their shimmering, streamlined bodies. Nothing lives forever, not even
the planet Earth. But nothing lives by always dying. The exposure
includes the bullet in your brain and the drifting continents of bone, remapping a world in which you will die or be reborn.

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