Chicago, Chicago your little boxes lined so neat beneath me. Your half frozen rivers milk my dreams. Chicago, you boom town, you blues bar, you ashtray. You cock tease. Chicago, so sexy in your tiny summer dresses sipping prosecco at a sidewalk table. You offer but never hang around to finish. Instead you give me five degrees at breakfast and let me leave without a fight. I’m worried I’ll get old, Chicago, loving you so hard. My face lined with your grime, my hair tangled in your bridges, the smell of chocolate long gone. I’ve left you fifteen times this year. Three times I meant it, two I left crying, two I drove away, one time I said goodbye to every building on Lakeshore Drive. But here we are, my love. You, crooked and sprawling, me half living with you. Don’t offer me a hot dog or a deep dish pizza. I don’t want lunch at the Atwood or a drink at the Drake. I’ve never been coy, Chicago – unfaithful, but never coy. I want you to slip that glittering Ferris wheel off Navy Pier and offer it to me on bended knee.
Hibiscus false orange your hair in brambles nettles red clover what astringent over lemon balm and pennyroyal tisane of rosemary pansy columbine rue fennel sweet violet my daisy my variegated ivy honeysuckle fast to me allium chive blossom and calendula marigold before linden cedar wisteria wisteria wisteria.
Michelle Auerbach’s work has been published in Van Gogh’s Ear, Bombay Gin, Xcp, Chelsea, and The Denver Quarterly, and anthologized in The Veil UC Berkley Press, Uncontained Baksun Books, and You. An Anthology of Essays in the Second Person from Welcome Table Press. She is the winner of the 2011 Northern Colorado Fiction Prize and has a book of poetry forthcoming from Durga Press.