Revising Cleveland

Sara Backer


How in love I was with poems I wrote ten years ago, five years, five months, ten
days ago, and now—meh. Neurologists say memories adhere with strong emotion.
Inside the heavy pressure of the ocean—oxygen-tanking, mono-tasking, wet and
hungry, muscles sore, I’m certain what I write is so important. When my poems
surface, what was a glowing brain of coral dries into a shriveled relic. I reassemble
fragments, hoping to revive as I revise. Is this how we revise our memories? We
expect to remember where and what we did and thought, yet our diaries scream
“very, very, VERY upset today!!!” and we forgot what happened. My mother-in
-law insists a baby photo of my husband was in Boston. He offers proof it was in
Cleveland: his height, the car with curves and fins. His mother glares at her
trembling hands. Her revision: it was in Boston—just before we moved to
Cleveland. My husband stops himself from saying that they lived in Cleveland first.
In the photo, he plays with a garden hose. You loved the water, she says. He says,
yes, I did.



Sara Backer is the author of SUCH LUCK forthcoming from Flowstone Press along with two chapbooks: Bicycle Lotus (Left Fork), and Scavenger Hunt (dancing girl press). This year's journal publications include Qu, Hawai'i Pacific Review, Nonbinary Review, Noble/ Gas Qrtly, Crannóg, and The Lake. Her website is

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