Of Yalta

Sure, it’s all Chekhov this and Chekhov that,

and I am far from the only one 

to keep myself up at night

thinking about his gun, 

 

but the man was a dreamboat,

gray eyes and smirking beard

and lips—those lips. The kind of man who,

if he were now alive at the age he died,

 

would walk into the party, see me,

slide his eyes over the temperate steppe of my body,

and then talk to my pretty friend.

Better for us both then that he’s dead.

 

I’ve been rejected in two centuries, lonely

in millennia, pride of my generation. 

This old story. Women who like men 

love them until the men are holes

 

and the women turn back to bone. 

Every time a man left me, I burned

something I loved until I was left 

with only the gear knob of a Dodge Omni

 

and wine stains round my mouth.

Maybe that is not all true, or quite true,

or true in the way that you want. All I know 

is that we do not have to have a thing

 

to lose it. I mourn the children

I am too sad to have, and the disappointment

of the lover I am too tired to take.

All day I feel them, their ghost limbs’ need

 

and heat, the echo of their bodies 

against my teeth—absences expanding inside me 

like the flower behind a bullet,

the blood inside a lung.

 

­Erin Adair-Hodges is the winner of the 2016 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize for her first poetry collection, Let’s All Die Happy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017). Adair-Hodges earned an MFA from the University of Arizona and then quit writing poetry; eight years later, her first accepted poem won The Georgia Review’s 2014 Loraine Williams Poetry Prize. Since then, her work has been published in Boulevard, Crazyhorse, Green Mountains Review, Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, Radar and more. Adair-Hodges is currently the visiting assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Toledo.