Long Enough

By Richard Hoffman b. 1949 Richard Hoffman
You would have thought it foolish to speak to the dead,
but I have lived two decades longer now than you
and all this time I have carried you in my head
 
so I think I have the right to question what you said,
dear teacher. My religious upbringing’s residue,
you would have thought it foolish. To speak to the dead,
 
however, is sometimes necessary, especially haunted
by all the things I know you hoped I’d do
with all this time that I have carried you in my head.
 
In a dream last night I followed where you led
until you asked me in a loud voice what I knew.
(You would have thought it foolish to speak to the dead,
 
but I was dreaming and could not refuse.) I said
that you were wrong, that I could see your bitter view
(since all this time I have carried you in my head)
 
for what it was, and you for who you were. Instead
of dreaming your reply I woke as you withdrew.
You would have thought it foolish to speak to the dead
but all this time I have carried you in my head.

Richard Hoffman, "Long Enough" from Emblem. Copyright © 2011 by Richard Hoffman. Reprinted by permission of Barrow Street Press.

Source: Emblem (Barrow Street Press, 2011)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Richard Hoffman b. 1949

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, Death, The Mind, Time & Brevity, Activities, School & Learning, Relationships

Poetic Terms Villanelle

 Richard  Hoffman

Biography

Poet and teacher Richard Hoffman earned a BA in English from Fordham University and an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College. He is the author of the poetry collections Without Paradise: Poems (2002) and Gold Star Road (2007), which was selected by Molly Peacock for the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize and won the Sheila Motton Award from the New England Poetry Club. 

Hoffman is also the author of the memoir Half the House . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, The Mind, Time & Brevity, Activities, School & Learning, Relationships

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Villanelle

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.