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Emily Hockaday "Four Poems"

Final Goodbye


I dream I am a magician. I pull silk scarves 

from my mouth, an endless knotted rope. Except they aren’t scarves,

but organs, the vessels that hold my life together. You are weighing them

and you don’t like what you find. Somehow I am never depleted,

and always have something warm and pink 

to place in your outstretched hands. How long 

can this go on? It seems unsustainable. And what is it

you are looking for? Something that will bring me,

more swiftly, to you?



The light is slant; the trees are   shape-shifters in  the forest. That   cat?    Only a     crooked

silhouette of bark. Those regrets? A pine felled by the last hurricane, propped up by stumps

and brush. The sound of nocturnal life? This is real. Even the heaviness I feel in my body is

real. I am growing something for us to share. A late walk cannot clear what drags on me. My

father is terminal; there is nothing to be done. Soon he will be a shape-shifter, too, a shadow

in the forest of my  neurons. I have  a hard time  seeing and  interpreting what is  there. Last

night, a  thunderstorm  woke us, and I  counted out the  miles between flash and sound. The

storm’s circumference was wide—strikes simultaneously miles away and very close. The air

builds toward another  overnight crescendo.  Within my uterus: a charged cloud of electrons

seeking ground.




Resurrection Spell:


No need for 

strands of hair

or small animals

to sacrifice. You know

the sacrifice, and it is one

you will make again 

and again. There is no 

“right time,” the stars

will not align; you must

grab the opportunity 

and yank its roots 

from the stubborn ground 

with both arms. It will be

easier than you expect, 

a paddle, some electricity,

and a calmly beeping ventilator. 

And you will say to yourself

that he is in there, that you

are not selfish,  that perhaps 

he is transmogrified and knows

you the way trees know

each other. Without sight,

without speech, 

through stillness.




The Mechanics


My daughter holds the barking dog

To her cheek—an imitation of sweetness.

She doesn’t know the mechanics that keep

it moving or how much force it would take

to pull off the lower jaw. But she might 

find out. Every day is a cliché with a baby.

I find myself crying into the bowl of ramen

my husband set before me. The egg is a perfect

white and gold floating in the broth. The chopsticks

stand up in the noodles. “In alternate universe theory,

there are plenty of worlds where your dad is still alive,”

he says. “I don’t know if that makes you feel better.”

It doesn't. The spices and steam from the soup

make my sinuses almost bearable. I am jealous 

of those other Emilys. They don’t know their own luck.


Emily Hockaday is the author of five chapbooks, including the forthcoming Beach Vocabulary from Red Bird Chaps. Her poems have appeared in a number of journals, most recently Parks & Points, Harpur Palate, and Isacoustic. She is the managing editor of Analog Science Fiction & Fact and Asimov's Science Fiction and coeditor of the horror anthology Terror at the Crossroads. She can be found on the web at and @E_Hockaday.

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