Ruth DusseaultPlay War, Curtain, Chicagoland, 2013 (digital c-print, 26x30")

We have a room, 208, in a hotel we never name—
Someplace clean. Nordic. Perhaps Sweden. We tell stories,

like after the sun gives up, or never begins,
you knock and creep in with warm mugs of glogg.

Outside, northern winds throat through fells,
cluster trashed fir tips, blow whitecaps over crocheted lakes,

ice-crust fish left in the arctic char. And under the milky down
our lazy feet, your erection, and expensive sheets.

Back home, in our balkanized reality, elevators grate up
petrol-hued apartment prefabs, carry communal air

of fried peppers and pickled cabbage, news of heating riots,
and in the dockyard buoys float like clotted fat on gravy.

Each evening you crouch on the oil-stained quay,
watch the sea tug at boat ropes, stars reflect on squat tankers.

Still, you see nothing but pale imagined snow.
Not a little like an affair—there isn’t really a hotel—

just a state of life, a type of existence disguised as a hotel,
not more absurd than the strength of curved, lash-like ribs

of a ship, or the phantom weight of the lover’s body.


Andrea Jurjević