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Erin Hoover reads her poem “Gifts”.


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I'm Erin Hoover and I'll read "Gifts" from my book Barnburner. 

When I was writing Gifts I was thinking about how we accumulate experiences when we're younger, how we mourn other people, and ultimately how we're able to form connections in the face of loss.


Some mornings at my office in Midtown,
post-9/11, shopping bags appeared
on my desk. In them, four-inch Louboutins,
a vintage bomber, Japanese stationary,
a Dior tote stuck with a Post-it, reading,
Toujours, Vincent. A buyer for Bendel's
in the '80s, he trolled couture auctions
when our boss was out. We sucked down
cigarettes on our breaks as flyover families,
eyes suctioned to the lenses of their
cameras, ambled among the drug fiends
scraping past on their daily haunt between
Penn Station and Port Authority. 
We traded stories: his week lost to dope
in Paris for the morning I woke naked
on a rooftop by butts and shards.
Marianne, Vincent called me. I was
the girl who swang from one Jagger clone
to the next, slim-hipped men who stepped
from doorways like rock stars deplane,
their bodies elegant and threatening
as the haunches of a horse. Being young
is living outside of time
, Vincent said,
as we ate BLTs on the street, mayo
gumming the cracks of his oracular mouth.
Don't ever get old. I laughed, no idea
how it would one day feel, each year
peeling away a layer of girlish skin,
as I found fresh ways to sneer at dramas
my younger friends pined over,
You think that hurts? Today, years
from my last dance floor, I'd bathe
in virgin blood to stop feeling so wise.
Like my friend Vincent, I've got gifts now,
no one to give them to. He died early,
a heart attack in Harlem a year after
I'd moved out west, and no one
thought to pick up the phone. I had to
return to New York to hear it, and in
the spirit of toujours, to ask,
in this city towering with luxuries,
what thing could I possibly give someone?
If and when that friend arrives, let me
slip my present easily, sans ceremony,
over their bare shoulders.