Poem of the Week

In 1987

Strummer Hoffston

In the midst of a move in 1987,
in heavy rain the mattress strapped to the roof of the van blew off
as my mother sped through Mount Holly, New Jersey
and little David Bowie shook in his cage on my lap.
But maybe Bowie was dead by then, having disappeared into the heating duct at Christmas,
and it was Jingle Bells who trembled in the small plastic carrier,
which could have been a cardboard box lined with a towel soaked in urine.
It was the fall or the spring, the sky was dark in the afternoon,
we were alone on Route 40 going to or from the friend’s house
or the shitty one-bedroom ranch we rented for a month
when the mattress landed on the road and slid a little into the ravine.
How did she get it back on the roof and deliver us to shelter?
If you asked, she wouldn’t know,
would only speak of her poor sense of direction, getting lost on the backroads
and searching for a gas station, signs for Moorestown or Meadowbrook,
someone going there too whom she’d follow, going easy on the brake on the wet roads.

Strummer Hoffston is a poet living in New York City who received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Fence, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. She won the Epiphany Magazine Emerging Writers Contest.
Originally published:
December 15, 2021

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