Grace Note

by Alicia Hoffman


The filaments hum before the electric catch.
                  Hydraulic bus door now, pneumatic, pleading

its case before the latch. The space between
                  the inhalation of breath and its circling back.

Away from the crowds today I yearn to hear
                  in the upcoming year all the ways in which we

play appoggiatura. The melody so easy it is mostly
                  missed. The displacement of styrofoam scooped up,

taken to the bin by a stranger. The next to last in line
                  abiding by the calm rush of no time, letting everyone

behind him go, and maybe forever he is last, or maybe
                  a stranger is the first sustenance we ask for. I want to go

forth resolved to the air before the step, the tender heart
                  of each wayward beat. In the near distance, a soft swirl

of smoke wends its way to the sky. In it are orchestras
                  of our half-made apologies, rising now, a consecration

of soot and ash. In it is truth before the fact, the holy vow.
                  Let us listen carefully, find ourselves in the act. I hope

you can enter the subsequent chamber with me, broke
                  as I am. I hope we learn to sing the hymns that mend us.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Alicia Hoffman now lives, writes, and teaches in Rochester, New York. Her poems have appeared in a variety of publications, including The West Review, Radar Poetry, A-Minor Magazine, The Penn Review, Glass: A Poetry Journal, The Watershed Review, Rust + Moth, SWWIM, The Night Heron Barks, and elsewhere. Her new book, ANIMAL, is out now from Futurecycle Press. Find her at: