Anna Claire Hodge
Your Rottweiler was pregnant.
You wondered what to do as her girth
neared bursting, what kind of mother
she might be. You hadn’t mentioned
children for months, knowing he’d
be barred from playgrounds and schools,
stacks of pizza boxes and gallons
of ice cream at birthday parties.
We spoke in whispers at holidays,
guessing what you’d do, how long
it might take you to leave him. During
the sentencing, man after man
admitted to what he’d sought
out as his wife or his girlfriend slept
in another room. That yes he’d stroked
himself to orgasm watching the smooth bodies
of children. But you vowed to visit
him, to wait the three years, said you never
gave him what he needed, no wonder.
Most afternoons I walk circles
around a lake where drummers
hit bongos and djembes until dusk, dreadlocked
women spin hoops in lazy orbits
on their hips. Where men watch runners from their cars
or play chess in stained shirts. A van filled with trash
is parked there for weeks, cigar smoke wafts
from a box Chevy, simple threats to avoid,
like the Muscovy ducks that nip at my ankles
if I approach their young. I never asked
if you knew, because I cannot bear to hear it.
Instead I listen to you cry, describing your dog’s
stillborn litter. How each puppy arrived
silent, blind, having never seen a thing.
ANNA CLAIRE HODGE holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Florida State University. She is a recipient of scholarships to Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals including Prairie Schooner, Mid-American Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Crab Orchard Review, Best New Poets 2013, and others.