The man walks backward into a lamplit studio where
like him the woman is crying. They scream

in each other’s faces until the tears recede
back into their eyes, turning them from red to white.

The two hold each other, grateful for this cure.

They undress and lie beneath a cool sheet,
make love and dress again. Months pass.

Their faces begin to soften, and the pair looks younger.
They take long, backward walks together.

Happy at last, each no longer needs the other.
They call, but spend most nights alone.

In the final scene, the two are sitting close at a bar.

He reaches into his coat and unfolds a paper
where her number is written. She clicks a pen and carefully

unwrites each digit. All nervous smiles,
the man moves to a different table.

He spits whiskey into a glass,
where cubes of ice are slowly forming.

 
 
J.G. MCCLURE is an MFA candidate at the University of California – Irvine, where he teaches writing and works on Faultline. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Gettysburg Review, Fourteen Hills, and The Southern Poetry Anthology. His essays and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Green Mountains Review, Colorado Review, Cleaver, and Rain Taxi. He is the Craft Essay Editor and Assistant Poetry Editor of Cleaver, and is at work on his first collection.