The Hunger Rooms

Sarah V. Schweig


To see the curvature (shallow), the horizon's ribs (distended),
sometimes at night I climb a dark building, a high

stack of studios, let-on-lease, and I can see
how the world breathes, how oxygen is just so easy

going down. Starvation is

a slow rotation, a constant relocation
from one empty room to another where

multifacets of multicolored lights hang
from the ceiling, hung

with hundreds of tiny clear tacks. In each room,
a martyr, each martyr moving from

one empty room to another. Here, above this bulb-draped city, missing

a once-lover's empty arms, calloused hands, eyelids
when he slept, I see, by the freeway, the glass motel.

It flashes vacancy.


Stars are windows in the sky. God is moving through each room
searching for something lost (or so I thought) while,

in every direction, the universe recedes from his hands' touch.
(You would refuse to turn on the lights.)

Once, we'd wake
in yellow dawnlight, our bodies

tangled into one, your bedroom, the window open, the cold come in.

At the bottom of the ocean, unreached by waves
of light, there is no weather. Instead (so I've heard),

a perfect species of albino fish
never comprehends the concept of surface.

All night, insects skim the water. Inside stilted beachside houses,
roaches scatter. This was our vacation.

The viridian sea of grasses washed ashore to the white sand.
We touched them, I sliced my fingers, I scarred souvenirs

onto my curious hands.

This was our vacation.

The storm would come after the blue rain. It would snuff out
all orange ends of cigarettes pointellating the cityscape, all neon

from signs up and down Rain Street, and the flooding would erase
the eyes from within every picture frame.

In this life, people take trips, open windows, dislocate,
take photos, and return home.


This morning I woke before you woke, tore poems
from my notebook, folded pages into swans,

arranged them on your nightstand in ink-scarred pairs
and let them float there. This morning,

I woke before you woke. I left before you left. This morning, I saw
how people emerge into daylight. Today, in this city,

there was some kind of celebration.
People emerged for the preparations.

This morning was the blue-ballooned morning, the blue-ballooned morning
anchored to the earth. This morning, the world turned out

to consist of just glass objects, turned out to consist of only
weight. Then, today, we became

the blue rain.


You've told me already about your Umbrella Crusades.
What else is there to say?

He and I used to sugarlift our eyes

to look for the stars in a smogged-up sky,
for our voices in sifted mists between stacks of offices, for

workers, pigment-dyed, leaving factories where, every day,
in just four colors, they silkscreen

this godless world.

Now, on the roof, a clear night, a dark high
building, satellites, stars and radio towers seem

equidistant. Red lights breathe in the night: This is where

voices come from—my mouth, his mouth, once a couple
of bummed smokes pointellating elevated air, so easy

going down. December, no matter, July—at that moment—
you and I, just in time, were of this

junksick world.


The only art left on Earth is the slow patient study and meticulous
enumeration of suffering. I keep a scarred tally on my wall.

And in the violet thunder of an early summer

storm one night, after eight glass drinks dislocated, emptied
into my fast, my body, a woman held me up

in rain. We saw how easily the streams
washed, pinkpetalled, through gutters on sidestreets and into

the steel arteries of the city.

My split heart was filled to the brim with pearly gin,
pineapple juice from tin cans, tear-soaked bar napkins,

black storm lights, dark mood lighting, as each lightning strike struck the sky
in shades of knowing, of unknowing—

All around us a split-second


lights—fluorescent stars—in all the buildings

went out.

No one

could forecast the storm
that would wash our bodies in silver or how

the hawks, like prayers, would emerge and begin their slow circles above.

Fork lightning tallied the muscle walls.
I've stopped counting.


Early on a Tuesday morning, when the sea released
a thousand tiny black pearls, I rose

from the seaweed of a silver body
of water, buoyed to the surface in the middle of my sleeping, woke

to a roomful of wilting magnolia
dreams from the night before, still

damp, the sad dozens of petals spelled the euphorics
of pain across the floor, the linguistics of stillness after

the stomach of a storm, cellar doors left open, blown fuses, exposed
urban filaments, grounded, of this blue-ballooned city.

Post-tempest, metalove, I've ended

my liquid diet
of multicolored glass. I've begun

walking from one room
through the others. I've begun turning on

the lights.


They say the only cure
for mourning is time. I say

the only cure for time
is nighttime,

the only cure for night is
more night.

For a few weeks we were
enveloped in night,

two concentric centers
of its satellites,

splitting each particle of each
other wide open

you and I were of this
homesick sciatic world.

Now from the street I see
the lights inside are shining—

I keep rewiring behind the walls
all the hunger rooms.