Alicia Hoffman

Train, ca 1875-1880, Edward Mitchell Bannister, Canada

Object Permanence

Say there is a map. Burnished. Tobacco and
          salt litter surfaces: Lake Ontario. Massapequa.

That street stall of memory. A pinpoint, where
          the map is all we have and it slips in a blink,

like a planet vanishing. Vastness is this blanket
          of space. There is no doubt belief is a magnet.

Iron alloyed. Aligned. You see, I am trying to
          make metaphor of the reason I feel lost. Here,

outside the perfect maze of my house, a train rushes
          into the distant blank horizon as if it became aloft

quite spontaneously. As gears kick in, the compass
          of everything I thought I knew rises to a crest

I cannot catch. Lost in the coordinates of every past
         mistake, I grope in the dark for a ticket. Enter

the station anyway I can. Enjoy the mosaics, free
         jazz played by the trumpet player busking for tips.

Object permanence posits just because a solid
         is hidden from view, it doesn’t mean it’s gone.

But I’ve been looking a lifetime for misplaced faith,
         turned up only crumbs and spare change. I’ve stood

in queue and taken my seat on the deck. All my life
         this moving forward. The scenery a rush of blur and

haze, speck and half-paid recognizance. Uncertain
         how much longer I have. All I know is it won’t last.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Alicia Hoffman now lives, writes, and teaches in Rochester, New York. Nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, her recent poems have appeared in a variety of journals, including The Penn Review, The Shore, The West Review, Glass: A Poetry Journal, Radar Poetry, South Florida Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. Her most recent collection, ANIMAL, is now available from Futurecycle Press. Find out more at:

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