The Plan Was by Anna Claire Hodge


Dump me in August, so I’d know
            it wasn’t my fault. Sell the banjo,

the canoe, each worn book swiped
            from the second-hand store. Let his lease

run out in November. Then that recipe:
            swig from a bottle, tip pills speckled like ladybugs

into a cupped hand. Garden hose, sedan,
            exhaust. But he’d changed his mind, and tells

me this on a playground just outside
            our rented condo. I say nothing, my legs

numbing as the rubber curve of a swing
            cuts into my thighs, and my feet churn the mulch

underneath. All day we’d sipped beer
            from foam cups, hidden the empties

from the passing beach patrol. The lifeguard’s
            flag blazed yellow, some warning we’d ignored.

A fisherman approached our camp of bright
            towels and rusted chairs, asked if we’d seen

the shark that leapt from waist-deep water
            just that morning. We tried to forget, of course,

what he’d said, to forget that anything could
            hurt us here in the shadows of balconies

draped in stars and stripes bunting, the smell
            of charcoal edging white.


Anna Claire Hodge is a PhD candidate at Florida State University and the recipient of a Tennessee Williams Scholarship to Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Journal, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Mid-American Review, and Copper Nickel, among others. Her poems have been anthologized in Best New Poets 2013, It Was Written: Poems Inspired by Hip-Hop, and others. She is a contributing editor for Organic Weapon Arts chapbook press.