When I see plums I taste childhood.
Sun cooking sidewalks and driveways.
Bare feet burning and we giggle and we laugh.
We’re safe.
Hummingbirds hanging in air thick and sweet and sticky like plum juice dripping down arms and cooking on sidewalks.

I see turquoise and I smell perfume.
Gold-flecked wallpaper.
TV trays standing still and records rarely playing
The sun porch holding my grandfather.
The Giants game on and my grandmother pouring iced-tea into turquoise and gold tumblers.
Her smile.
Sunspots lining her soft, soft arms.
They match the color of her hair.
Her eyes sparkle
In her our Italian history locked away tightly.

White Toyota Truck
Lawn chair cushions filling the bed.
Heat and hard to breathe
His California cowboy eyes looking everywhere but at us.
The Giants score.
Grandpa humphs. Grandma caters.
He barely looks at us.
Miles of San Jose brown and dust.
I still scan the license plate of every white pickup I see.

The condo
The invisible landmines.
the plums
Her skin soft like baby powder
Grandpa sitting in his theater chairs
Minnesota and lakes and her eyes
Don’t breathe too loud
Read his mood by the way he opens the door.
Have the Giants game playing.
Don’t breathe too much
Remember the plums and hummingbirds and turquoise.
Minnesota is waiting.
Her arms wide open and safe and waiting

©2017 erin hoffman – all rights reserved




her mother tended to meddle

too much because her father never gave a damn

her mother took on the role with the same grace as someone stung by bees

the way her face twisted as each question forced its way out her pursed lips

the way her body tightened, flinching with each unsatisfying response

disdain clung to her mother’s skin like her caked-on powder


her father barely knew the face of his daughter

so her mother studied every nuanced line on her daughter’s face

mapping lies and guilt before words fully escaped her insecure lips

she circled her daughter’s life with precision, not warmth

the way vultures hunt the sky

the way flies can act like vultures hunting the sky



©2017 erin hoffman – all rights reserved

She’ll say…


She sits on her love seat,

morning sun dancing across the floor

Her aged fingers grip each other,

hands holding hands – filling the space where his hands no longer hold her

She’ll ask you to set the table,

she’ll say please don’t make a fuss for your mother, she works so hard for you girls

She’ll ask you to come sit next to her on the davenport

and together you’ll watch the shows she usually watches by herself

She’ll ask you to go warm the bed for her

She’ll add ‘kins’ after she says your name

She won’t tell you the depth of her grief outright, but you’ll feel it when she says

just be glad you have someone to give that Valentine’s Day card to. You’ll never realize how lucky you are until you no longer can give him cards

and you’ll know you never want to feel that kind of pain, that kind of sadness.

She’ll never fill your head with stories of how amazing their love was, either.

She’ll never put their love on a pedestal to be idealized…

instead she’ll tell you about how they were equals, how they worked side-by-side, he made sure everyone knew she wasn’t his secretary, she was his partner.

And in the morning when it’s time for you go home, she won’t make a fuss

She’ll ask you to make sure you don’t forget anything

do you need anything for the road?

She’ll remind you to be good and remember your mother works so hard for you girls.

She’ll let you know she will say a prayer to St. Christopher for you all, but please don’t forget to call when you get home safe

And as you load the car and start to pull away

She’ll be in the window waving, smiling

©2017 erin hoffman – all rights reserved