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This poem is part of our 2014 fund drive bonus issue! Read more about Strange Horizons' funding model, or donate, here.

The city does not love you as you wanted to be loved.

Don't be surprised.
These ways are inhuman ways:
no midnight phone calls,
no possessive hand curved on your waist
when you stood on the pier
and took the sea-wind full in the throat.
Nothing of the city is only and ever yours.

(You were there the night the last one went into the water.
Black windbreaker flaring unzipped, his face
a featurelessly distant smudge descending.
A man does not survive such poetry. You knew—)

But the lights are a garland on the river.
You are shakingly cold. This is a vision given to you,
a high-wire communiqué from some impenetrable and dancing god.
You spent a week
knees tucked under your chin,
the dawn sliding grey-gold
over the glass and the steel.
The machinery is inescapable.
A net of bridges has caught you up.

You could drown of luck.
Never anywhere but the right place:
the hissing iris of a subway door; the club's
bright and razored lacuna of your night.
Snow fell for ten minutes out of a clear sky.
I told you not to be surprised. It was the new year
and you were hardly human yourself,

ready to dive into the Hudson and come back
a bride-ring clutched between your perfect teeth.




Arkady Martine is a speculative fiction writer and, as Dr. AnnaLinden Weller, a Byzantine historian. In both roles she writes about border politics, rhetorical propaganda, and liminal spaces. She was a student at Viable Paradise XVII. Arkady grew up in New York City and currently lives in Uppsala, Sweden. Find her online at arkadymartine.wordpress.com or on Twitter as @ArkadyMartine.
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