Two Poems

Poetry / Bridget Lowe

:: Imperfect Allegory for A Situation of Which I Am Not Permitted to Speak ::


          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
          A thing)

What if		she said		I left 


Look, they said, a slab of salt propped against 
          A distant fence. Help 

          Yourself, they said. But Rose could not. 


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
          In every wrong spot 

Until the movement stopped. Poor Rose.
          She did not know
          Her own size. 

Like most girls she died from this 


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. 


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, 

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 

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.