"Matryoshka" by Raquel Aparicio.
© Please do not reproduce without artist's permission.
by Alicia Hoffman
Nesting dolls. From the Russian for mother. Мать. Big-bellied progenitor. Fertile womb. Breeder. You see, it is easy to twist women into words, or wood. To carve them whole, set a large dark space where the heart should go. Sand them down. You may need a chisel, a simple tool, but it is possible to turn a body on a lathe until she is smooth enough to paint the way you want her, till she is light enough to bear whatever you put inside her, silent enough to stay docile on the mantle with the other tchotchkes, tokens of proliferation. The matryoshka waits until someone claims her, puts their hands that do not ask around the small inseam encircling her belly, grips and twists her right in two, scoops out her many treasures, lines them up alongside the woman that used to be a wholesome thing, and pleased with the wreckage looks up to say see what I just did?
Originally from Pennsylvania, Alicia Hoffman now lives, writes and teaches in Rochester, New York. Author of "Like Stardust in the Peat Moss" (Aldrich Press, 2013), her poems have appeared in Tar River Poetry, Redactions, SOFTBLOW, Camroc Press Review, A-Minor Magazine, decomP, Rust + Moth and elsewhere. Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, she is currently completing an MFA in Poetry at the Rainier Writing Workshop.