Note from My Mother

Let’s talk about
your long-lost lion puppet,

the one true creature
you could not live without.

Did you know I x-actoed
the grasslands of his mane

from the Sunday funnies?
Did you know that his eyes

were not marbles at all?
Did you know I pierced

a black-eyed pea with a needle
and made it his nose?

Did you know we all live for a time
as creatures abandoned? Bring back

the ketchup bottle that you fitted
with a wig. Bring back the cocoons

noosed to the lid of a pickle jar;
the eyelashed mouth

of the venus flytrap; the newts
and tadpoles; the wood tick,

its perfume-bottle grave.
Did you know we all live

all our lives with coins on our eyes?
Did you know that your puppet

wasn’t a lion at all
until you called him a lion?

I made him no one creature
in particular; he was cloth

with a face, and his gumball eyes
were sweet when you licked them

and gone in a day.

Copyright © Jeff Hoffman. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Summer 2017.