After by Carlie Hoffman


She lifts them one by one
from buckets fishermen brought
from Kopavogur–today, brown trout,
tomorrow, char–after rinsing each one
separately, peeling scum and dirt
from the skin, they will still keep
that same bewildered expression
on their faces as she positions
their forms in ice. What happens
in death is tall and far
away as childhood. She does it
with the weighted hands
of a mortician patting blush
on the cheeks of the dead. Imagine
the creatures knocking like spoons
beneath the North Atlantic,
their whole school a silver light
darkened by nets. Before
the motorcycle, the accident,
gasoline and his face
scalped back along Kjalvegur,
the lemon trees blond with August.


Carlie Hoffman is the recipient of a 92Y/Discovery Poetry Prize, an Amy Award from Poets & Writers and was listed as one of Narrative Magazine‘s 30 below 30 poets. She was awarded second place for poetry for the Writer’s Digest Annual competition. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in New England Review, North American Review, TriQuarterly, Bennington Review, Boston Review, Ninth Letter, WomenArts Quarterly Journal and elsewhere.