INSTRUCTIONS FOR GIRLS’ WEEKEND
Buy groceries the day before. You’ll want to get
right out to the beach. Remember who loves
tarragon, which of you is trying her best to eat
again. Walk miles in the sand, always looking
toward your toes, the nails painted like the ruby seeds
of pomegranate. The tide will scrawl an easy map
to rotting horseshoe crabs and clamshells just sucked
of their meat. Count the plastic parts of baby dolls
you find. You’ll have more legs than arms. One of you
will be pregnant. One will be bleeding. Tape your cheeks
and eyebrows up. Call it a Florida face lift. List
baby names. Swipe right. Unscrew the orange plastic
prayer of a prescription bottle, tip it, and share.
Line your towels and totes like sentinels
against the inexorable tide. Bring seltzer.
Bring paper towels. You never have enough.
A town of mediums just off the interstate,
clapboard houses with hand-lettered signs
that invite walk-ins or warn by appointment
only. A man arrived here a century ago with little more
than tuberculosis, drank from a stream and had visions:
a paradise he could build. Now, the spiritualists offer
walking tours, workshops, retreats into the woods
to drum or meditate, a shop that brims with crystals,
incense, books on tape. Like the tiny cassette
the psychic palms to me when she’s finished,
so that later I’ll have proof of her promises:
marriage at 32, fame, that around me she sees
a flurry of books and the ghost of my father’s father,
who for years owned a roller rink, slid skates
across a counter to children who would speed
in circles, wanting only to become a tangle of limbs
on the parquet, or, with a thrust of the heel stop as dead
as a ghost, an old maid, a book no one wants to buy.
Anna Claire Hodge is a Visiting Instructor of Writing at the University of North Florida. She holds a PhD in creative writing from Florida State University. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Mid-American Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Copper Nickel, The Journal, and many others. Her poems have been anthologies in Best New Poets 2013 and It Was Written: Poetry Inspired by Hip-Hop. Visit her at annaclairehodge.com.