ARCHITECTURE IN CLEVELANDShe looks out the hotel room’s picture window onto the heart of downtown. To the left is river, to the right is lake. He pushes his fingers into pulsing temples. When you get like this, he says, you’re not the person I fell in love with. She thinks Cleveland could get another chance if people would only live here. She undresses with her back to him. It’s too industrial, she thinks, the unsettled foundations, all the smoking streets, the abandoned buildings. She plugs up the tub, locks the door behind her, gets in to ferment. The steam feels heavy, helps her brace for the consequence of locking. She’s only a little scared, she’s been pushed this hard before, thinks: all the regret in the world couldn’t pull me out of this. Thinks tomorrow they’ll leave the city, drive out to the orchards. They’ll pick apples and grapes, and the rotting of fallen, defiled fruit will remind him of prison hooch, how they used cell toilets, waited for the poison to turn, three days for those who weren’t patient enough to wait a week— She wants to wrap him in her wet towel, wants to say, home is a place that survives in songs, there’s nowhere to follow you, I’ve been soaking in the sweat of without you. He watches her towel fall to the floor, and she whispers something he doesn’t hear, and he says something half-hearted. He watches her untuck the sheets from the corners. She doesn’t need anything else to be strangled.
SARAH MARCUS holds an MFA in poetry from George Mason University. She is a staff blogger for So to Speak: A Feminist Journal of Language & Art. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cimarron Review, CALYX Journal, Spork, Nashville Review, Slipstream, Tidal Basin Review, and Cold Mountain Review, among others. She was a grand finalist for the Joanna Cargill Coconut Book Prize for a First Book and the 2012 Booth Poetry Prize Runner-Up, as selected by Linda Gregg. She was also named a finalist for the Iron Horse Literary Review 2011 Single-Author Competition in Poetry and a finalist in Glimmer Train’s November 2010 Short Story Award for New Writers competition. She is originally from Cleveland, OH.