Lately you don’t feel the angel in your room. The dim shaft of white that attends the darkness is just a bathrobe limp at the closet door. You are not a child anymore, but you are still afraid. On Sundays, you walk your daughter to Sunday School in her Mary Janes, hands on her shoulders, steering her blindly at God. Every Sunday, you wait in the hall while your child sings with the other children. When she runs off, your hands collapse to your thighs, a short but dreadful plunge. At night, you lie in bed afraid the angel that has never left you has left you. What has become of your life? The slender drape of your robe is a candlestick whose light is snuffed, wick smoldering a dark ceiling across your body and the body of your husband who does not believe. In the evenings, a small voice sounds from the room across the hall. This little light of mine, she sings. The light is on in her room when you enter, sleepless. She sleeps, the cool shell of her curled body. Every night, your daughter has kicked off her covers. Night by night, you are learning to leave her bared. She is not you. You believe in this new child come into the world despite you, entirely herself.


Cynthia Marie Hoffman is the author of Paper Doll Fetus (2014) and Sightseer (2011, winner of the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize in Poetry), as well as the chapbook Her Human Costume. Hoffman is a former Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, Director’s Guest at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Wisconsin Arts Board. Her poems have appeared in Pleiades, Fence, Blackbird, diode, Mid-American Review, and elsewhere.