Poetry: Anniversary by Claire Eder

Claire Eder sets the stage in “Anniversary” for “ordinary love”—a performance both endearing and familiar. Whose body has not been softened by illegal chemicals? Or trembled by illicit confession? Or soaked in the long river of “ordinary love?”



Impossible to say
where we started.
One night we’re
jumping the fence
of an apartment complex
pool, our bodies softening
in the chemicals and
glow of underwater lights,
nothing but underwear
now transparent and clinging,
until we’re shadowed
by the cop
standing over us.
One night we’re broken up
and yelling
by a parking lot where, somehow,
a pickup squad
of radical cheerleaders is practicing,
stopping and
starting over their routine,
and you hurl at me
how you’ve been seeing
someone else, and I stand
because I didn’t think
you had it in you.
One day we’re giving
the kittens a bath,
tipping a shot glass
full of warm water over them
till the fur has a luster
like a slow stirring
of paint or cream
and, because they are shivering
and bug-eyed, I start singing—
it’s the only thing to do—
as I lather the bodies
with Dawn
and rinse and see fleas
streak blood down the drain,
singing nonsense
over the small cries,
and you stand silent with the towel,
a helpmeet.
You’re the one
who does the talking
at parties, and I teach
you to chop
each vegetable in its own way.
We are learning
an ordinary love—
the kind of love one must learn
to survive.
I want to begin
long before the first touch,
when we are floating in inner tubes
down a river,
a real river with a strong current,
with everything in it—
and we are in it, too.



Claire Eder

Claire Eder’s poems and translations have appeared in the Cincinnati Review, PANK, Midwestern Gothic, and Guernica, among other publications. She holds an MFA from the University of Florida and a PhD from Ohio University. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin. Find her online at claireeder.com.

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