Sarah Marcus

Choke Point

You slide your tongue

along the inside of my thigh.

Bed down in a ravine

cut in the smoothest stone.

I bear the weathering.


I think of the fossil bed,

its remnants and remains

the product of being quickly

buried and buried again.

I fear that in your absence,

my rescue will scar,

my tender flesh pulled and torn.


You have been an impassable

rock face of waiting, an unclimbed

northern ridge. You tell me I’m the fluting,

the place the glacier leaves,

the result of years of loss.


I tell you you’re hurting me, and you say

it takes a while for you to commit.

I exhale to slip through the fissure,

but you hold me at the wrist.


In this great valley, water finds its way,

sediment traveling for months.

Where the path crosses the ridge,

hemmed tightly by flanking cliffs,

we come to a slender mouth.


And with the diminished daylight,

the night talking of coyotes in the distance,

I know that I am the open fissure,

meat split across the backbone,

a fresh carcass. You will call to me

and I will undress and undress for you.


Leave Your Skin on the Highway


Coyote country—

where sandstone bleeds

drawing wet desert.


What is no longer here

asks you to imagine

the bedrock of beauty.


Looking over our shoulders

these rocks care nothing for us—

handsome passageways,


subversive trails preaching

ghostly flashes and starlit

skin walkers, shadows carrying bone.


The wind is talking of guns

and chants like an old truck on a mountain road.

Like a small bird asks the sky,


an ash-throated flycatcher,

I find myself seeking refuge:

your rotation of stars.


Sarah Marcus is the author of BACKCOUNTRY (Finishing Line Press) and Every Bird, To You (Crisis Chronicles Press). Her other work can be found at NPR’s Prosody, The Huffington Post, McSweeney’s, Cimarron Review, CALYX Journal, Spork, Luna Luna, and Marie Claire, among others. She is an editor at Gazing Grain Press and a Count Coordinator for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. She holds an MFA from George Mason University and currently teaches in Cleveland, OH.