Anna Claire Hodge

Instructions for the Host



Flirt with the tall blonde’s husband. Compliment 
his new winter beard. Roll limes on the counter 

to release the juice inside. Dress down. Press firmly 
on the dimpled fruit with your palm. Light candles 

fifteen minutes before guests arrive.  Mix the first 
round of cocktails yourself. Pour them strong. 

Wait until morning to dump the ever-filling bowl 
of cigarette butts. When the house has emptied, 

the ashtray will look, for a moment, like a small,
white-capped sea. Keep a lipstick in a kitchen 

drawer. You can’t leave the red wine reduction 
to burn. Start with swing, then Sinatra. After dinner, 

they will be drunk on candied Brussels sprouts, steak, 
potatoes browned to golden. Do not yet offer 

dessert. Instead, board games. Later, they might want 
to dance. Dim the lights, queue Marvin Gaye. Queue 

Al Green. Pour two ounces Aperol over muddled 
orange slices and cranberries, then one ounce 

Lillet. Shake well. No one will want coffee. Say Why 
ruin a good buzz?
 and they’ll laugh. Apologize 

for drinking so much. It’s just, you all so rarely 
get together. When a friend cries to you in the powder bath,  

wipe from her face the lines rutted into her foundation, 
then send her back to the party. Slice the cake. Tell 

that one story. Take photographs. You will want 
to remember how happy you seemed. Don’t rush. 

Wait a while to begin cleaning. The women will want 
to help. Protest twice, then let them.

Anna Claire Hodge

Anna Claire Hodge is PhD student at Florida State University. She received her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her work has appeared in Hayden's Ferry Review, The Journal, Bellingham Review, The Collagist, Copper Nickel, Four Way Review, and others. Her poems have been anthologized in It Was Written: Poetry Inspired by Hip-Hop (forthcoming, Minor Arcana Press), Myrrh, Mothwing, Smoke: Erotic Poetry (Tupelo, 2013), and Best New Poets 2013. Read more about Anna Claire and her writing at