This is How to Be Happy

When the blue day is puffed with clouds, you should be happy. Happiness is simple. Wear a rubber band around your wrist, so when you feel the impulse to drive the car head-on into another car, snap the band. When it’s storming, you should also be happy. Heat lightning draws a serrated knife in the clouds. How many years did you cultivate this garden of negative thoughts like a prized rosebush? The roses in turn whispered suspicions with their velvety tongues. Will you always be scared of yourself? High in the canopy, the squirrel is pruning twigs for its nest. The dark language of foliage creeps at the garden gate. You would never hurt yourself. You only worry you would hurt yourself. But worry is useless as any emotion, so why not choose happiness? Animals toss whatever isn’t needed from the nest. Sometimes, a cloud takes the perfect shape of a rabbit. And sometimes lightning makes a squiggly line like a child’s drawing, unrecognizable. It’s okay if you’re starting happiness from scratch. 

Cynthia Marie Hoffman is the author of Call Me When You Want to Talk about the Tombstones, Paper Doll Fetus, and Sightseer, as well as the chapbook Her Human Costume. Hoffman is a former Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, Director’s Guest at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Wisconsin Arts Board. Her poems have appeared in jubilat, Fence, BlackbirddiodeThe Journal, and elsewhere.

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