Alicia Hoffman lives, writes and teaches in Rochester, New York. Recently, her poems have appeared in Umbrella, Redactions, Red Wheelbarrow, elimae, Boston Literary Magazine, Pirene’s Fountain, Dogzplot and elsewhere. She also has two broadsides, Losing Duende and Good Fortune, available through Ink Publications.
It is an old story, a lament familiar as a used robe hanging
like a hanged man on the back of a bedroom door, as worn
as a war-torn country raising its flag and then, no more.
Ismene says if she could live life over she would stand
in solidarity with her sister regardless of personal cost.
She says if she could live life over, she would impale
her own uncle if that is the price to become someone other
than the minor character, the disappearance no one knew they lost.
Sister, do you have the strength to dine on the moral of a story
so old we have forgotten it is lullaby? Sister, will you share
with me this fable we hunger like bread? When Ismene asks
what we would do, will you mouth the words we were taught
to say, that we would have done it differently, that we would have
had the strength to suffer the starvation and the cold empty cave,
that we would have stood solid and strong against whatever it was
that had the bitter aftertaste of iron and shook us with elemental fear?
Will you tell her that archaic myth, that lie we love, that we, Ismene,
you poor tragic fool, would have done it differently than you?