Erin Adair-Hodges
My New Boss Has Been Thinking a Lot about Time


Though he doesn’t say exactly what this thinking

is about. He strokes his beard, a clock his face

has made, his right leg lifted to harass the chair,


his left on the floor, a pulpited flamingo in tweed.

He tells me to relax, and maybe it’s because

of the authoritative way he can grow hair


under his nose, but this command works

like a cauldroned incantation. I’m so relaxed

it’s as if I have never, too, thought about time,


about the frenzied hours of trying to settle

my son’s dervishing, begging the languageless

to take my breast so we could be done


and I could get back to the work which would not

wait. I’m so relaxed I don’t remember

how that son now tells me seven was the worst year


because that was the year I left to find a job,

how the time difference meant there were days

we could not talk at all. I pack the picture books


he has outgrown into cardboard boxes

I label for some future him’s nostalgic need

for bears on quests, their orphaned hunts


for hats and homes and sleep. My mother never

saved such things—she thought I’d want to forget

those years. Sometimes what has happened never stops


happening. Even now—this windowed

conference room’s smell of toner, the tea let out to stale—

our old disappointments dandruff the air,


a thought scrum of hurt. I am so relaxed, though,

I can finally be kind, so I cradle my boss, sing him 

a lullaby until he burbles with joy. I could do anything


to his soft body. From a distance, this looks like mercy,

a freckled boy cradling the broken bird

his stone set loose from the sky. The woods outside


applaud. They have been waiting for the man in me

to come home. Another’s blood the key.

The violence of time the door.



Found In Volume 50, No. 02
Read Issue
  • erin adair hodges
Erin Adair-Hodges
About the Author
Erin Adair-Hodges is the winner of the 2016 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize for her first poetry collection Let’s All Die Happy, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press as part of the Pitt Poetry Series in 2017.