Poetry / Bridget Lowe
:: Imperfect Allegory for A Situation of Which I Am Not Permitted to Speak ::
1. The breathlessness Of sinking in to flesh, like a sleeping bag Filled with jam. . . She always seemed a little slow to them. The way she wouldn’t turn Her head Upon hearing her name. She had the ornament Of learning Which is not Learning itself. It is following directions. Rose did. A turn Around the concrete pole at the end Of the gravel road Then back. Swaying toward a fuzz of light Like a dandelion Head, drunk on the cold Air, a distant barn She could not reach—How much farther Is it now, she said (We don’t know, they said, not one of us Knows A thing) What if she said I left Peacefully Look, they said, a slab of salt propped against A distant fence. Help Yourself, they said. But Rose could not. 2. Poor Rose. She got her degree in Humanities And 84K later A frat boy sat on the squat brown cask Of her tired body Pointing out The sorry zigzag of her dugs, those pickled slits That gave no milk. And the rotted tooth That no one would attend to So her breath came out A reeking blast Like last week’s trash blown through a tube Of paper towels. And then the rock Her yellowish eye did not catch. Rose Stepped again and Again In every wrong spot Until the movement stopped. Poor Rose. She did not know Her own size. Like most girls she died from this Mistake. 3. Believe it or not the complications of foreign commerce Were not lost on Rose, nor The fluctuations of the stock market Which Rose boiled down to simple Masculine fear, measurable as menses As they consulted spreadsheets cosmic As the Milky Way, Their suit sleeves revealing just a hint of gold And wrist hair. 4. Rose counted her possessions In her head: One imaginary falcon and One wayward cow That roamed beneath the crabapple trees On certain afternoons. How human she felt. You have no idea. Perfectly distinct From men, Rose sat In the congregated straw Watching them prepare for it. A blue tarp spread as if it were a birth. She saw herself being pulled through herself, Headfirst. She was swimming and flying all at once. All this time what she imagined was pride was fear. All this time she was tied with jump rope. She didn’t know. All this time she was blind-folded. All this time she believed that God loved her. Not just loved her but loved her loved her. She thought they were star-crossed lovers That got caught. She drank a little poison. The heft of God a thousand sorrows on her back. What happened Happened In one fell act, brutal And permanent Whether anyone believes it Or not. And then she was running in the actual woods, A girl.
:: Justice, A Pornography ::
Raggedy earnest bouquet of dandelions ripped from the front lawn, my girlish dream of the meek (little mouse- people, many and pink, lying in nude heaps, one upon the other) inheriting and inheriting some manhandled version of the earth (cash blowing around in a tube of air, hair vertical, screaming with joy, a fire sale at a furniture store, Black Friday), my face of hope so giant in your face, obscene, me (me, always at the other end of your telescope, the face of my child when she is waving at a random man in a hoard).
From the writer
:: Account ::
My invented Rose is an abused horse used to give kiddie rides at birthday parties and for other entertainment-centric events, until she accidentally tramples a frat boy to death during a ride and is put down for it. The poem is inspired by my concurrent reading of Tolstoy’s story “Kholstomer,” or “Strider: The Story of a Horse,” which follows Strider from birth to death, a death carried out by a stranger who kills him unceremoniously in the woods when his work output is no longer of enough value to his owners to keep him alive. In Tolstoy’s story we are with Strider as his throat is cut, his body flayed for his subpar coat and left exposed to feed stray animals. Strider’s flesh and meat ultimately provide nourishment to a pack of young wolf cubs. It is an ecstatic, perfect ending, and I am obsessed with the story.
“Justice: A Pornography” is my response to the Beatitude “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Bridget Lowe is the author of At the Autopsy of Vaslav Nijinsky (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2013), and her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, A Public Space, American Poetry Review, Parnassus, Ploughshares, Best American Poetry, and elsewhere. Honors and prizes include the Discovery/Boston Review Prize, the Emily Dickinson Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Rona Jaffe Foundation fellowship to the MacDowell Colony, and a scholarship and fellowship to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, among others.