I am a child in the lunchroom
which is the sometimes gym
singing my known truths: I love milk

to which Tanya says If you love it so
much why don’t you marry it
?
And that’s a fair point, Tanya.

Why don’t I marry this milk, why
don’t I plan an elaborate ceremony,
choose colors, invite milk’s family

and milk’s college friends to stay near,
but not with, us? Why don’t I start
picking the poems now to be read

as we wed somewhere necessarily
refrigerated? Just like a child
to think it’s so easy—that love

is a one-way act or a matter
of decision. We can’t love
what we love into loving

us. Tanya, if I could
why would I waste my time
with milk, or with you, you

whom I decidedly do not love?
I’d be out charming
my indifferent grandmothers

into expressions of genuine affection
and jewelry. I’d be deepening
a correspondence with television

and movie star Michael J. Fox
who I imagine chastely kissing
with my full and future lips,

making the sounds
I’ve seen on the screen.
Tanya, this is the smallest torture

you’ll think up for me, perfected
until junior high starts and I
am in honors classes and you

are not—forgive me this, my own
small wounding, but I am
storing these cruelties inside me

like a library dedicated
to one kind of war. I am becoming
a woman who’ll do almost anything

to be wanted. Why don’t I marry
the milk, Tanya? Ask the milk
what there is in me to love.

 

Erin Adair-Hodges

ERIN ADAIR-HODGES is the author of Let’s All Die Happy, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. A Bread Loaf-Rona Jaffe Foundation Scholar in Poetry, Sewanee-Claudia Emerson scholar, and winner of The Sewanee Review’s Allen Tate Prize and the Loraine Williams Prize from The Georgia Review, her work can be seen in journals such Kenyon Review, Boulevard, Prairie Schooner and more. She is currently an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Central Missouri and Co-Editor for Pleiades.

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