“Pittsburgh” by Ali Shapiro

Ali Shapiro


Between you and me
is Pittsburgh, the city of bridges, the steel city, the buckle
on the Rust Belt, birthplace
of Gertrude Stein and setting
of Flashdance. I’d drive East
for five hours and you’d drive West
for five hours and we’d be there, in Pittsburgh,
where the murder rate is 2.61 times
the national average, which means we might not
survive Pittsburgh, but the natural disaster risk
is second-lowest in the nation, which means
there’s a chance. Right outside
Pittsburgh is Frank Lloyd Wright’s
Fallingwater, which its residents called
Rising Mildew, and which is something like what
Pittsburgh would be for us: beautiful
and useless. Pittsburgh is the Paris
of Appalachia and has three more bridges
than Venice and speaking of places
that aren’t Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh
has seventeen sister cities, including
Presov, Slovakia and Skopje, Macedonia
and Saarbrucken, Germany and Da Nang,
Vietnam, but none of these cities
have the Pittsburgh Steelers, or the Pittsburgh
Pirates, or the Pittsburgh Passion, or the Pittsburgh
Riverhounds. And I’m telling you all this
because I know that if we went to Pittsburgh we wouldn’t
see Pittsburgh, wouldn’t stroll
through Beechview or Beltzhoover
or the Strip District or Windgap, wouldn’t know
any neighborhood in Pittsburgh except
the one that contained the cheap chain hotel room
we’d be renting for just a few hours, so that I
could see your face and you could see my face and that’s
what Pittsburgh would look like, our faces, stupid
with relief, tired from driving
all that distance to a city that could
be any city, but isn’t, because we’re there,
together, for the first time, finally, again.

from Rattle #37, Summer 2012

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