by Anna Claire Hodge

Hide from dipping violets, wallpaper
flowers that seem to lean
toward you as you try to bring

on sleep, listen for the tinkling
of ice in a beveled water glass
as your mother moves through upstairs
halls. Listen for ambulances. Finger
the scar along your arm, refuse to turn
your back to an open space for fear of dead

relatives that might scrape your shoulder
with cold fingernails. An older cousin
has frightened you with stories. Wonder

if you’d hear burglars as they enter,
how you’d plead for your life. Beg
for stories: crocodile, elephant, words in

French, man in a fez. Think tongue. Tell
mother you’ve been petting the dog as she
holds your hands to her face and inhales.

Photo: Anna Claire Hodge
Anna Claire Hodge is a columnist, blogger, and poet based in Orlando, Florida. She is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s MFA program. Her work has appeared in Breakwater Review, Blue Earth Review, and Makeout Creek, among others. Her party playlists are the stuff of legend.