Poem of the Week | December 14, 2020

This week’s Poem of the Week is “Midlife/Midwest” by Erin Adair-Hodges!

Erin Adair-Hodges is the author of Let’s All Die Happy, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. Recipient of The Sewanee Review’s Allen Tate Prize and the Loraine Williams Prize from The Georgia Review, her work has been featured in such places as PBS NewsHour, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The Rumpus and more. Born and raised in New Mexico, she is now an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Central Missouri and the co-editor for Pleiades.



Our desert house husked musicless, save
for my clock radio, which I’d tune to synth and sax
to muffle my parents’ misery, the first animals

I ever knew. Nights quiet until summer
brought thunder and coyotes pushing against
what we thought we could call home.

The air here heaves with wet heat,
the stereo of cicadas
throbbing their tymbals until such want

is the new rhythm my heart funks to.
They leave their old selves everywhere, singing—
fuck me, fuck me, I’ll change.

How once I was a streetlight so I wouldn’t be alone,
my yellow eye filmed with moth and filth,
until I learned to dim

and let the stars have their way.
Like this tree-strung choir, I don’t trust
a silence, even the one I’ve dressed in blue,

who calls me love. You can choose the house
but not what happens inside. When I ask you
to sing to me, I mean any you will do.


Author’s Note

The marvelous, disastrous secret I know now and am writing through is that we are all surrounded by women who, in their late thirties and forties, are pictures of accomplishment and poise and yet are not infrequently consumed by the desire to burn their lives down. There’s an understanding of incipient change that creates an urgency to understand ourselves as we are now, separate from the choices made by the former versions of ourselves. Each day we inherit a world made by an earlier set of desires, and each day we try to guess what our someday-selves may need or want. Some days, though, the urge to have a moment just for the now-self blazes–it is dangerous and beautiful.