Between the leaning reeds and grasses,
near the grey and pocked clusters of oysters,
a mud thick as chowder threatens to swallow
your shoes and ankles. But you are used to its grip.
You know: don’t struggle, let the rich earth
do what it will. Like the gnarled roots of towering oaks
that break red brick sidewalks into obstacles
as students shuffle to class, tipsy friends pour
into the night. You teeter on heels, and are thrust
forward. For a moment, you are perfect in flight.
The next morning, a man you don’t yet know
might trip on that same broken walkway.
Years pass, you grow sure-footed, learn to map
and avoid those small dangers. You stop to admire
walled gardens, the bright notes of honeysuckle
that punctuate the air. Once, the city was walled,
but boundaries toppled, and this place moved
through the hands of others, whose grips loosened,
fell, were forgotten. Now your two voices linger
in the warm evenings: on porches, in parks,
where each spring praisesongs and operas rise
into the heat as a candymaker stirs again
another copper pot of bubbling sugar,
and the scent floats, lazily, languid
through your city wrapped safely in rivers,
toward a sky pierced by spires.
A College of Charleston alum, Anna Claire Hodge
is a PhD candidate at Florida State University.
Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner,
Mid-American Review, Best New Poets 2013,
and many other publications. Read more of her
work at annaclairehodge.com.