Sinners to the Back of the House

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June 22, 2022 by The Citron Review

by Emily Hoover


Her calloused hand slapped my face. Furrowed brow, crows feet. My mother. Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow had found the birth control pills nestled between empty cigarette packs.

You’re just like me. She stood eye-level with me, A/C unit humming. Crucifix heavy on her freckled chest, hot breath carrying the stench of Keystone Light and Skydancers. Sinners to the back of the house. Just like at mass when she forced our family to the last pew—not worthy of the blood and body of Christ on our tongues. 

I had ruined everything: condom wrappers like locusts stirred. 

God is watching. I stared beyond her, my hand on my stinging cheek. 

White knuckled, she a fortress with a partial roof, turned her back, my room in pieces. The hardwood floor trembled, wept, as her words hung in the air. A clothesline of our shared guilt.   

But trees caress our meeting spot, the tires of your truck caked with mud. My face, peppered with splotches of dirt, goose bumps on my bare inner thighs. Your beard like thorns, tongue like damp rose petals against my breasts. 

That night, I lit a candle for her and me. I washed myself with tears collected from the corners of her eyes. My mother, no Virgin Mary, petrified in the shadow of her mistakes.


Emily Hoover is the author of the novella in stories, Snitch (Wordrunner eChapbooks, 2021), and the zine of micropoetry, Portrait of My Mother Living with Mental Illness (Rinky Dink Press, 2022). Her poetry, fiction, and reviews have been published by or are forthcoming in FIVE:2:ONE, Bending Genres, Limp Wrist Magazine, BULL, Necessary Fiction, The Los Angeles Review, Ploughshares blog, The Rupture, and others. She lives in Las Vegas.








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