• Epigrams Upon the Health-giving Qualities of Mirth

    Erin Adair-Hodges

    Spring 2022

    “Keep your chin up. Don’t take your troubles to bed with you—
    hang them on a chair with your trousers or drop 
    them in a glass of water with your teeth.” 
    –The Evening Democrat, Oct. 1900

    Even Missouri means something to me now so, sure,
    anything could happen. There’s a house in California
    made of only doors so that you’re always going someplace
    but somehow never there. It takes leaving to understand arrival,
    just as health gets clarified when the tongue goes slack,
    one arm game but numb. My first dead love rides shotgun
    on night commutes through the country. His hand passes through
    the stereo, so he changes the music with his mind. Erasure
    again. I tell him how successful I’ve gotten but he doubts I’d be good
    at death. I trust him and do not drive into the tree, do not drive
    into the gap called Devil’s Branch, no matter how horny
    for darkness I get. Chin up, he tells me, then turns back into
    a cottonwood, limbs turned fluff borne by air. Chin up,
    I look for clouds doing impressions of things, like even the sky
    could have a crush on me. A plane, two planes, the people
    inside. What if one of them is supposed to love me
    and this is the closest to them I’ll ever be. I wear disappointment
    like a prom dress I refuse to take off, a murder of seams.
    It takes courage to be who you are despite all other recommendations.

    Erin Adair-Hodges is the winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize for Let's All Die Happy and author Every Form of Ruin, forthcoming in 2023 as part of the Pitt Poetry Series. A former academic, she is now an acquisitions editor for Lake Union Publshing.

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